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. Lionhunter

    The rookie President... next time, don't answer the question.

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

    The entire incident was stupid. The cops shouldn't have arrested him in his own home. Customer Service reps let alone police officers are trained to de-escalate a situation. There's no reason this situation should have turned out the way it did. Cops- white, black or otherwise are always looking to use their authority rather than use common sense.

    Now Gates may have acted the fool as well. But here's the question- this man is noted to be one of the most influencial and intelligent people in America. Who am I going to believe him or the police officers? What I know about cops and what I've read about Gates leads me to believe the cops acted stupidly. That's not saying Gates isn't at fault but given his accomplished record I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Even if he is black.

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

    What don't they comment on or critiicize? If the president ate eggs instead of pancakes for breakfast they would make a commentand be critical. If they spent their time coming up with ways to help the American people instead of ads it would be time well spent and actually mean something.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Dr Ray

    And who knows more about acting "stupidly" than the GOP? They stupidly allowed Bush to rack up deficits and get us involved in a needless war. They stupidly try to pander to the rural and southern Whites against the "rising tide" of minorities. And they just stupidly committed political suicide during the last two election cycles.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. Idiot_Pelosi

    OBAMA is the idiot for speaking on a subject matter he doesn't have any facts to. OBAMA is the RACIST PIG for automatically siding with the BLACK MAN vs waiting to see who (and possibly) both were at fault.

    Let's remember, there was a black cop on the scene as well.

    See what happens when OBAMA has to talk without his canned speeches and his TELE-PROMPTER.

    Obama, you are a joke.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Amy

    Seriously?? Republicans are showing their petty and weak stance. Of course, when Bush was in office, we were all told to "stand by our President" while he was running this country into the ground. Obama makes and obvious observation and the Republicans try to use this to make him look bad? I haven't loved everything Obama has done by any means, but pick your battles! The Republicans will NEVER turn around with these tactics. Stop being petty, build a strong platform that follows logic instead of stupidity and perhaps you can gain some control back. All this does is turn off those of us who look at facts instead of voting pary line. What a joke...and a racist one at that. Of course this professor was treated the way he was due to race and everyone knows it.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. seebofubar

    Race is a factor because Obama, without knowing the facts, automatically took the side of a black man. The police were 100% in the right. I guess Reveranf Wright's anti white anti American rantings did not fall on deaf ears.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. R

    REPS get over it...! That was the Presidents point of view and choice of words on the matter.
    My opinion, the Professor and the Officer acted stupid.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. DJ

    If indeed Gates was hostile to the police officer, then he should have been charged. If he developed an attitude, etc. The officer was acting on the information provided by a neighbor that two black males were breaking into the house next door. How is he to know, especially if Gates was not forthcoming with his ID etc, which is what has been reported, that Gates is not a robber. This is not racial profiling-the neighbor told him who was breaking in! Officers risks their lives daily even with home invasions. The charges were dropped and Obama should not have commented. It was inappropriate when he did not know all the information from both sides.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Matt

    I suggest you read the arrest report before commenting on this story. The police sergant did noting wrong, acted professional and curteous despite the vile and rascist things Louis Gates kept yelling. I question how "scholarly" Mr. Gates really is if he thinks refusing to show ID to an officer responding to a complaint is a smart move. After finally showing the ID the sergant leaves the house. It's Gates and his mouth that escalate the situation after that. And Obama should have know better than even answer that question.

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Min

    Open mouth incert FOOT again

    July 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. What does Joe the Plumber think.

    The President has created his own Willie Horton with just a couple of thoughtless words. Was the police officer right? No. But this happens when you are rude and abrasive to a police officer, irregardless of color. Anyone with a clue knows that. Apparently Harvard professors think that they are above having to respect and cooperate with authorites like the rest of us. Think again. By immediately siding with these elitists, the President has just lost Joe the Plumber.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. buckwheat

    Same old story all over the country. Even the President is affected with it. Must have been a white cop.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. Crock

    stop the partisan garbage...man up...fix it!

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Oscar Esquia

    The truth hurts!!! President Obama comments has been known for years.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. Kevin from Co

    So even obama keeps pulling out the race card everytime something doesn't go their way. It's sad how in this country even when you start the confrontation as a black if a white responds it makes the white a racist.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Justin

    Who cares? The Stock Market is on fire. It is unstoppable. Everyone is making money. This is the "New Economy," get used to it. You would have to be pretty dumb to not be making money in this Stock Market...everybody I know is making money.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Cody

    Strike One Mr. President.

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    load of crap...he's the chief executive...gues what that means in relation to the police?

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Brian

    What's there NOT to agree with in the president's statement? The police arrested a man in his home after he provided ID. STUPID.

    If the GOP wants to dig themselves into yet another hole with this campaign... all I have to say is go right ahead!

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. RealityKing

    Cops are stupid. Almost as stupid as those mindless morons writing all those stupid laws.

    But the Nutty Professor.., well, he's the stupidest of all. And a piss poor role model for the young blacks of today who are already stuggling to cope in our progressively stupid society.

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Neutralizer

    This is the BIGGEST problem of Obambi, he shoot off his mouth without checking facts. Obambi as always use the race card every opportunity he can get. During press conference last night, that was the ONLY question he was asked he showed some life because it was all about race. Obama ABUSE the race card like he abuse and squander faith of the people who voted for him. Like his socialize medicine, he talk about it without knowing what's in that bill; he had done the same thing with STUPID COMMENT about cops in Cambridge who were just doing their job when a private citizen called them seeing two people trying to break-in into a house and Obama proudly say the guy was his friend. Does his friendship with that arrogant man and being black, makes him above the law? Does Obama believe he's above the law? Are black people in this country above the law Obama?

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. gananut

    Surprise: The racist GOP is spending $$ for an ad attacking the appropriate remarks of our President regarding racial profiling in this country. I suppose the democrats should do the same thing asking people's opinion regarding the trysts of Mr. Sanford and others paid by the taxpayers ...

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Jon

    Of course it was presidential. Someone asked him a question and he answered it. If he had refused to answer the NRSC would have jumped on him for avoiding the question. This is politics, and this Walsh guy is not being truthful if he says otherwise.

    I suppose Bush's tactics of holding only one news conference a year, not taking questions, and lying through his teeth are more presidential?

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Karen in Florida

    " ...... that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home .."

    Yes America, that is correct ! You can no longer be arrested on your own property !!

    Hey DuhBama ... he was arrested for being disorderly, for impeding the lawful conduct of a police investigation !!

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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