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. Jason

    It was stupid. They're just embarrassed about how stupid it was.

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

    Happens all the times, glad they did not shoot the professor because they saw a gun that one not there. Obama spoke the truth.

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

    OMG, if the same thing had happened to any one of the individuals who are now so offended by President Obama's remarks, believe me, there would be hell to pay. Upscale neighborhood, unusual circumstances, worried neighbor and police find a black man at the door! Of course he's up to no good. He couldn't possible live there. Any cop with any sense would know that and then the owner of the home has the audacity to get angry at the inference being made. You figure it out. Disgusting.

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

    Of course the GOP is criticizing Obama...that's what their job is: to criticize and question Obama's every movement.

    When will the GOP put politics aside and finally look at a subject regardless of what Obama does and critically analyze it? They change their minds on subjects just so they don't have to agree with him!

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

    If Obama states the wind blows, the GOP will criticize him. This is not news.

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. WI Vet

    Yeah your not taking sides here. BULL you are so full of bias you need a shovel to stack it somewhere.

    HOW, how can the GOP say they won't takes side in a matter of proven inability "Protect and Serve" Mr Gates but when something happens in the middle east election. Something that is none of our matter GOP is sided up faster than a 1st grade kickball game.

    Someone please get the crowbar to help them remove there heads form them dark place.

    July 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Keith

    The person who interjected race was Gates by stating "Why, because I'm an African-American?" when the officer asked for ID. The officer was following his fiduciary duty to investigate a possible break-in after Gates' neighbor saw multiple men using a crow bar to enter Gates house. Gates then played the liberal elite card by stating "Do you know who you are messing with?" and made comments about the officer's mother. This all took place outside with the officer making numerous attempts to diffuse the tension. However, Gates actions eventually forced the officer to take action. Now, Gates (who makes his living based on racial issues) gets a career boost by his victimization. The President should of stayed out of this and should of at least read the officer's police report first. Instead he acted like a community activist and not a president in contributing to the stereotype that cops are racists. Way to bring that new post racial tone to Washington!

    July 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. craig

    By refusing to apologize at all, the Cambridge cops were and are indeed acting stupidly.

    For the GOP to think this is an issue and to spend time and energy on this "issue" while we face two wars and a struggling economy, well, they're acting pretty stupid as well.

    July 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. VAisforLovers

    They did act stupidly… I agree. Why can’t the President call it like he sees it?

    July 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Chris

    RNC, you will never have another black person vote for you if you keep this up. Are you really criticizing Obama for complaining when the foremost black scholar in the US is racially profiled in his own home?? Sigh. You guys are destined for failure.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Sunny,

    The police DID act stupidly, since when did the president give up hid right ti free speech. So what if that is to critisize the Police Depart.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. D.Hill

    If the president called the officer stupid then thats his opinion.I personally think he was stupid also to arrest a man in his own home AFTER showing 2 separate pieces of identification.That officer overwhelmed by that mans intellect,stature and wealth shamed him.All he could do was react in a racist way.The same holds true for the racist senate commitee.If the exact same incident would of happened with a black officer arresting a white ritzy gentleman in his own home he would be fired immediately and ridiculed.It just shows how this race things got another 50-60 yr lifespan....

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. allen

    How can the NRSC say that they are "not seeking to politicize the issue"? Why else would the National Republican Senatorial Committee try to create an ad that attacks Obama for a remark that he made? The National Republican Senatorial Committee is only helping to fan the flames and cast a negative image... which is politicizing the event.

    Typical double-speak from politicians.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Pat in Georgia

    No offense intended to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but have you guys got NOTHING better to do or to spend your money on than take out an ad about what Obama said? Good grief!

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. VA Dem

    Smart strategy, NRSC, do you really think that supporting an officer accused of racial profiling is going to help you win votes? Regardless of what actually happened, all you're doing is firing up your base, which as we've seen, is not enough for you guys to win elections anymore.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Sam

    Obama is right on the money. I don't know if the cop is racist or not, but he handled the situation poorly. He established Mr. Gates was the rightful occupant of the house and it should've stopped there, even if Mr. Gates wasn't being overly nice to the cop. Who on earth DOES like cops poking around their property/pestering them after its been established that nothing wrong is going on? Common sense completely failed here.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Frank, FLA

    of course they have criticism,,,,,,,,Dear GOP,,will you please stop whining and start doing something other then just complaining,, it is so obvious that all you want to do is hold back what the president is trying to fix,,,,,also , being a white man i do see this as racial profiling,,

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Tom P.

    Obama's comment was shameful. He should not be commenting on something for which he lacked information. As a president, he should have much better judgment than this. Further, his uninformed comments will be a distraction to his policy agenda. Lastly, HIS comments–as opposed to the officer's reasonable actions–show HIS problem with race. Obama just created an issue where there wasn't one. I hope that he exercises better judgment on domestic agendas and foreign policies; otherwise, he will create a serious mess. I'm surprised at the magnitude of this error.

    July 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. demwit

    Those silly black men.., they're always over reacting when the police are involved.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. David in Houston

    As always the GOP can't handle the truth...

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. patNY

    I'll say it..yeah, the police were stupid! Why? How can you be committing the crime of public disturbance in your own home!

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. I give up

    no matter what he thinks, he should have kept his mouth shut. this is a local matter. the community organizer came out in the open. this will serve to further divide our country. another piece of evidence that he not post racial at all.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Scott

    By the way, you don't get to "record your thoughts" on the NRSC website. You simply sign your name to a stupid petition. This is beyond ridiculous.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Dave

    I love it – with all the issues facing Congress right now, the idiots in the GOP are looking af this pathetic opportunity to score cheap political points. I wish I could say I'm surprised.

    And for the record, Obama is absolutely correct on all counts.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Joseph

    Personally, I feel that the action was grossly wrong on the part of the police department. It was a clear violation of "common sense". The President was asked, and he responded in his opinion. The Republican's need to stay focused on their own recovery, and rectifying their differences in providing health care, and working together in a bi-partisan fashion to right the social inequality in this country instead of always wasting time finger pointing, and dodging reality. Racism is a factor, lack of health care is a factor; lack of jobs is a factor; the economy is a factor; their own public image is a factor. Note, this is another clear example of where their heart lies . . . adding to the problem by fueling the fire, instead of working towards a solution. If I were arrested in my home like that, I'd sue the Police Dept. as well !

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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