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. jenn

    What happened to conservative love for a property owner's right to be "king of his castle"? You think the GOP would be frothing at the mouth with outrage over a homeowner being accosted by police in his own home over an anonymous tip. But I guess that would only be the case if the homeowner was a white Christian with a house full of guns, since that seems to be their threshhold for having rights in this country.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. Marc in Virginia

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

    Especially when jokers like Obama and Gates keep playing the race card. Way to throw the police dept under the bus, Barry. Hope you get all the facts before you start negotiating with Iran. Thank God Hillary is around to clean up your mess.

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    There have been numerous reports of thug-ish, bullying and unprofessional behaviour of state troopers, police, etc. on all the news services. This event with Professor Gates is just another. When you act stupid ... you need to be called on it - I agree with President Obama ... the police acted stupidly.

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

    Stupid is a word that we do not teach our children to use and in my classroom there are consequences to calling someone stupid. This man has gone way over the top on this. He sould have been asked why so many African-Americans and Latinos are stopped by the Policemen and he should have stayed out of the arreast altogether. But, hey, is the Messiah, right?

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. James Warner

    The President was RIGHT ON

    July 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. This is so silly

    I think that if it was anyone in that house, even a white man or woman, they would have asked for ID. They were under the impression someone broke in- so they wanted to make sure he wasn't robbing the house. Since he didn't show ID, they had the right to be suspicious- what if there really was someone trying to rob him? They were just trying to protect his property, he should be happy about that.

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

    Obama should have never answered the question. He sounded like an ACORN activist, not presidential. In the final analysis, it was Gates would played the race card (which apparently he does for a living).

    While I'm at it, I was disappointed to see Soledad O'Brien featured so prominently as a CNN "reporter" on AC 360 last evening. She came across as biased and racial as anyone I've seen reporting on this story, and doing so outside of the context of her over-hyped "Black in America" series.

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

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

    Yes, Mr. Gates is truly a racist.
    He assumes that white police officers harass the black man, holding him down, putting him down.

    Let it go black man, I see you as an equal. an equal with a better job and a higher pay rate and a nice house. Things achieved on your own merit. Why throw it all away with hate and fear.

    Shame on YOU Mr. President!

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. MJ - San Antonio, TX

    I totally agree with the President in his commnets about the stupidity of the policeman who did the arresting. It is sad that this keeps happening again and again in our country. When will each race understand that we are all the same? Each race has its good and bad amoungst them. Nobody was created better than the other.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Stephen Steele

    Obama you are wrong. If you would read the newspaper article you would see it was the professor that caused the problem. The police were just doing the job we pay them for. A complaint was made that someone was breaking into the house. All the Professor needed was to cooperate and all would have been fine.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. steve

    If race remanes a factor, how the hell did he get into office?
    The only race that is a factor is the rase card.
    Gates became angry at the police( white or black, you yell at a cop your going in), got in trouble, how would a person of prestige get out of this? Blame everybody else. Man up to the fact thatyou are to blame and move on.
    That officerdoesn't have to apologise for doing his job.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Jeff Brown

    The GOP is so deserate they will question his choice of breakfast cereal. They are out of touch, corrupt fools!!!!!

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Effra

    People are beginning to see how Obama is just a race-mongerer after all - not a "post-racial" president. The floor is falling out of this presidency.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. jeremy.....Dallas...Texas

    GOP should use that money to give us alternative means to budget deficit or healthcare. This is side show without meaning.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Gus The Willie

    How about that the GOP is endorsing the shoot first and ask questions later attitude.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Sandy

    Seriously? A cop responds to a burglary call–not just randomly pulls up outside some African American's house and goes in and harrasses him...then when he asks to see some identification, the man in the house becomes beligerant and makes comments about the officer's mother...but that is okay. What were the police supposed to do when someone called in a burglary and they arrive there and find someone fitting the description of the person breaking into the home actually inside the home? Just leave? I guess I don't get it...and I absolutely don't get where people are saying racism and racial profiling came into play on this.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Dixon

    Of course they question it. Just because he spoke of a problem we all know exists doesn't make him wrong. More politics as usual from both sides. The only work that will be done by these Republicans is to demonize Obama at every turn. It is sad when that is all you have to run for election on.

    July 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Linda Va

    Repubicans are the stupid ones for sure. They will do anything stop President O.. They are just patectic to say the least.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Scott

    The NRSC has missed another opportunity to broaden their base. As a white man from Indiana, I recognize that some police officers harbor racial bias. That's not to say that there are many exceptional law enforcement officers.

    I really recognized this bias after an incident with a friend. One of my friends, who was relieving himself in Chicago ally, was approached by police officers. They just gave him a warning and said to him. We're here to protect you. In other words, a white guy gets a pass.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Susan

    I agree, Obama should not meddle on these things.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. nom deplume, esq.

    A "little biased." Ya think?

    I'd love to see the Mass. congressional delegation squirming right about now.

    When the facts come out on this one, the WH, in the form of that lump of pus, Gibbs, will quietly backtrack on that comment. My money is on a "clarification" in 2 days or less.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Natalia A

    It is so sad to see that everything President Obama does or say is criticized by the Republicans. Let the man do his job and have his opinions. Where were these people when Bush was ruining the country and making the real ignorant and plain stupid comments for the 8 years!

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. New Age Democrat

    Obama's statement on the issue is embarrassing. With the facts available, there is little doubt that Gates was entirely at fault in the incident by not producing identification, followed by his verbal abuse towards the officer. Simply put, Obama acted stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. JAY

    Obama is the one who uses the race factor the most,
    and when the racist hate is used against whites by blacks and
    latinos its ok with him.

    July 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Shelly

    Obama and Gates are the racists, or should I say race-baiters.

    July 23, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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