July 23rd, 2009
05:35 PM ET
13 years ago

First on the CNN Ticker: GOP questions Obama's police criticism

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/23/art.obama07235.gi.jpg caption="The NRSC will place a national Web ad Thursday questioning President Obama's criticism of Massachusetts police department."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Republicans will place a national Web ad Thursday calling into question President Obama's decision to criticize a Massachusetts police department for arresting a Harvard professor at his own home.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for the Senate GOP, is paying for the ad that asks people whether it is appropriate for Obama to say that the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" for arresting scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates was charged with disorderly conduct after reacting angrily when police arrived at his house after receiving a call that a break-in was taking place. On Tuesday, the charges against Gates were dropped. Obama was asked about the incident during Wednesday's nationally televised news conference, and he acknowledged that he may be "a little biased" because of his friendship with Gates.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

The incident, Obama said, shows "how race remains a factor in this society."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama did not regret using those words, but sought to clarify that the president "was not calling the officer stupid."

"The situation got out of hand," Gibbs said.

A Republican official tells CNN that the NRSC is buying a Web ad that will run on the Drudge Report asking people if Obama's remarks were "presidential."

"This isn't taking sides between the police officers and Mr. Gates," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh told CNN. "It is the issue of whether it is appropriate for the President of United States to be weighing in and taking sides before, by his own admission, all the facts are known."

Walsh, who denied this was a political maneuver, said people who click on the ad will be directed to the NRSC Web site to record their thoughts.

"Unlike the president, we are not taking sides here," Walsh said. "He is the commander- in-chief. Is it appropriate for him to prejudge a legal matter when he doesn't know the facts?"

In addition, the NRSC will issue a news release this afternoon in an attempt to pressure Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, to "speak out" on the matter.

While Walsh said the NRSC is not seeking to politicize the issue, it does ask people to donate to the NRSC. And it is an opportunity for the NRSC to collect email addresses for future political undertakings such as fundraising.

Filed under: NRSC • President Obama
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Well Mr. Walsh, the President was aked a question and he answered it. what do you expect from him? The republicans are trying to politicize everything. I believe he's entitled to his own opinion.

    July 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. annie s

    Yawn. Tomorrow's headline : GOP questions Obama's right to breathe.

    July 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. linda

    Our president admitted he wasn't there and might be a "little" biased because he's a friend of Mr. Gates. I think our president let his mouth overload his butt! He needs to worry about his job and let the Police Chief of Cambridge PD worry about his. I am furious with the president for making a public comment.

    Police officers have enough of a burden in their jobs, without an idiot who is nothing more than a Chicago thug run his head about it.

    July 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Gipper

    It would appear to me that every time a race issue comes into question, it is the likes of Jessie Jackson, or the President who starts the issue. Why would the president of the United States not try and calm these issues rather than stir the fire? You would think any professional would try to help eliminate the race issue, not make it worse.

    Everybody is the same but it appears that some people wants to be treated better than others.

    Obama, stick to screwing up the Country and let the police do their job.

    July 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Independent Again

    Wow!! POTUS using the race card!! Everything is about race right?

    He must be having flashbacks of his mentor Rev. Wiright teachings.

    Typical arrogance of Lord Obama himself. He does not to know the facts yet he had determine it was race motivated. He claims to be a lawyer but seems to be more like Sharpton & Jackson.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Janice

    What's the story in this and why the ad. That's exactly what happened the officer acted stupid. The Rebublicans are doing nothing more than showing their prejudices. President Obama is the president and they need to work with him to get this country back on course.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    No matter what belligerent and likely stupid comments were made at this encounter (and you can be sure that both Gates and Crowley participated in that), it is unfortunately the case that the Crowley arrested a man for being in his own house.

    This is what makes "community policing" difficult– to have the bigger and usually more accurate view on "what is going on here" - not to get swayed by tempers (yours and other people's), and by stupid comments (your own and other people's).

    So bottom line, is that the Cambridge police did act stupidly. So I agree with Obama, and kudos to the President to call a spade a spade (what a refreshing state of affairs!).

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Melissa

    After watching the complete lies the Republicans spewed yesterday on c-span when the Democrats weren't around to knock them on their butts, the GOP can kiss my butt. I no longer trust anything that will ever come out of their mouths.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. gc

    Sounds like everyone is falling over themselves to kiss this guys ass except the cop. Sounds like the cop treated him like he would have treated everyone else and THAT'S what is pissing this guy off. It' such blatant grandstanding at the cost of legitimate racial issues and public servants that it's painful and embracing to watch.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. JD

    umm....they DID act stupidly...that's not bias, that's just fact. they acted like a bunch of idiots.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. Kelly Cook

    My understanding is that Mr. Gates refused to identify himself. He immediately took offense to the police being there and assumed they were only questioning him because of his race. He should get that chip on his shoulder filled. The police were called and they responded. He was in the house and would not give his name. I feel the police had no choice but to arrest him. Had he been cooperative and provided his I.D. this never would have happened. Police Sgt. Crowley owes NO apologies to Mr. Gates.
    Furthmore President Obama has nothing to do with this. I don't think a reporter should have ever asked what he thinks and President Obama should have stoped with his comment about not having all the details. Based on not having the details he should have declined to comment.

    July 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom

    Oh PLEASE! Obama can't say a word without GOP CRITICISM!

    The police who arrested the HOMEOWNER were STUPID!

    OR are the police perfect now???????????????????????

    There is plenty of racial profiling going on in our nation, whether the far-right wants to admit it or not........ IT IS FACT.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. RI Moderate

    ....and #4 – Gates is a victim of his own inflated ego

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. carlo

    They would question his remarks.

    Meanwhile, a neurosurgeon in Florida is circulating pictures of our President photoshopped to look like a near naked African witch doctor.

    The level of their hypocrisy is shameful.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Bea from Texas

    of course they will...The G.O.P allows its supports to send racists emails and stuff like that...what do you expect? I agree with the President...call it is what it is....

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  16. Brina

    Oh good lawd, the press shouldn't ask questions they don't want a answer to.....he thought the it was stupid and so do I.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Kimberly

    I watched President Obama's conference on televison and I am not offended by his words at all.....they were correct. It is fair to say that racism is camoflauged. I guess you wouldn't know this if you were not Latino or African American. He simply stated how he thought the policeman acted and how this could have been handled correctly.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. and he'll rectify the impasse

    wow. TPOTUS interjecting into police matters in MA?!??! I bet not one word would have come from his mouth if the belligerent man arrested had been white.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Debbie

    It's unfortunate that so many people who crave power get involved in police forces. There is no law that states that a homeowner can't yell at a police officer. And that's why the charges were dropped. Walk in the shoes of a black person who is constantly being looked at as a criminal. White folks wouldn't be able to handle it.

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Cindy

    How PC of you NRSC. If the guy arrested was a white Senator, you guys would certainly be expressing outrage against the police.

    Should President Obama not be able to express his feelings? Was the President of Iran correct in saying that Obama shouldn't say anything about what's going on in Iran, simply because he wasn't privy to all the facts?

    Is it soooo horrible, that a person of authority, bring some of his background into his expressions? Now that the shoe is on the other foot and the person expressing is a profiled black President? Or a wise Latina woman? And the "old" boy NRSC cries foul. Cry me a river...

    July 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. MAC

    I feel that it was in poor judgment that the Chief of Law enforcement condemned the officer before he had all the facts in. Let internal affairs investigate the allegations made by Mr. Gates and present their findings before you get on nationally news and condemn somebody. The Officers career has been jeopardized.

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Zero.

    Who cares? The neighbors wont bother calling the police next time. That house will get broken into now, because of that.
    Just because your Black these days you think you are extra special.

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Jobrien

    Speaking of stupid, following up the subtly but clearly racist Sotomayor hearings with defending a racist cop? Is the GOP trying to alienate ALL of the minorities in this country? I suppose thay have given up on winning elections?

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Neil

    Obama wants race to remain a factor because vast flocks of blacks switched parties to vote for him. Even if they didn't agree with his politics. Such as Colin Powell.

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  25. Sarah

    *Yawn* Just a strawman for people to take away from the important issue at hand which is HEALTHCARE.

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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