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. Ian

    Gates baited that cop...he wanted an altercation. Cop had a report of two blackmen with crowbar opening door. All gates had to do was show his ID and expalin....end of story. But like most of Civil Rights leaders...he doesn't want to fix things...he wants to keep things stirred up and cry VICTIM whenever he can

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. george woody

    If Obama was in some of the situations our law enforcement men and women are in on a daily basis, he would understand completely some of the methods used to protect the public and themselves. Obama is just trying to protect the Negro race and not the whites.

    The same is true with Mr Gates. He seamed to act to big for his britches when all the officer was trying to do is protect Mr. Gates property.

    The officer needs to give no apology.

    He needs to be awarded a medal.

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Dustin

    They just don't get it. Keep up your silly games until your party dies.

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. gloria

    It is what it is! It was stupid!

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Mike from Texas

    The arrest of Mr. Gates was not stupid–stupidity excuses a person.
    The arrest was unconstitutional and the officers should be brought before a grand jury.
    Gates had Proper ID
    Was in his own home

    and the "family values" Republicans back the cops?

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Brennan, Seattle WA

    We beg for politicians to just tell it to us straight and then when they do one side or the other uses it to try to get leverage. Gotta love politics.

    I for one, am happy that President Obama said what he thought.

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. yoyolite

    The GOP is trying again to find fault. Obama merely stated the truth. Blacks in America are looked upon as suspects more so then whites. It is what it is.

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Dana Porter

    I am ashamed of what our president said about a police officer who was just doing the job that he is paid to do. Their are some crazy people out there, and how was that officer to know that he wasn't .
    This man should have complied with the officers request, and stepped outside to show his ID, no big deal, until all of a sudden its racial. I am so tired of everything being racial. I am a 50 year old white women, who had breast cancer at 42, while raising 3 teenage boys by myself. I worked during my chemo, surgery and a round of clinical trial drugs. I worked to be able to keep my insurance to pay for my treatment and feed and cloth my children, no one was there to say we will help you with bills or anything,nor did I expect it, but they do today. Thank God I am cancer free today, and my boys are grown men, one a police officer. I resent what President said and told my son I don't care if they say they are the Pope....arrest them and then sort it out. Oh, by the way, my insurance premium is $597.50 a month. Hey Mr. President, thanks for looking out for me.
    Dana Porter

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Josh

    Oh for the love of God let the GOP step on this landmine! A black man being arrested for being in his own home and they're going to say Obama is wrong for saying the police acted stupidly? The GOP can't be THAT dumb. But I can always hope they are.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. Jake

    This is yet another attempt by the Republican party to make the president look bad because he is a Democrat. They are so pathetic.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. Informed American

    I am so sick of the "reverse racism" being used today. We are all Americans, regardless of our skin color (fake tan or otherwise). Let's not forget that each and every reporter called upon by the President has a pre-screened question CHOSEN by the White House.

    Not only was this question completely off topic, it was a set-up for President Obama to play the African American/Latino" card. Shame on you Mr. President, and shame on you Professor Gates. If you could not contain yourself on your own front porch when advised by an officer of the Law that you were subject to arrest, then the consequence is deserved. I respecfully request you to keep your African American studies on task, Sir, and that applies to both the professor and Mr. President.

    Our Commander in Chief should not be utilizing a national press conference to further a personal agenda. Like it or not, we are all in this together.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Donkey Party

    Amazing how fast the right-wingers can mobilize to slander the President, but only want to be lazy knuckle-draggers when it comes to helping Americans. Can anyone remember the last time any new ideas came from the GOPPERS? All they do is obstruct and criticize. Anyone that would consider supporting that party is a fool.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. John

    Sometimes the truth hurts. I wouldn't react kindly if I proved I was in my own home and a cop insisted on questioning me. And you've got a lot of guts complaining after what many of you said during the last election. Don't throw that stone until you move out of your glass house.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. fellow from Chicago

    The only reason charges were dropped against Gates is because Cambridge has a black mayor and black chief of police. Ever since Obama hit the national political trail the race card has been present starting with the "good" Reverend Wright. Obama is not the President of all the people and he's going to create more of a schism between all colors in this country if he doesn't be careful. As soon as he said Gates was a freind of his the word stupidity should never have been used. The President then showed partiality toward one of the parties before he knew the facts. Now that's stupid and I'm irate that this man is supposed to represent me. I don't think so.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Sam Chandra

    If any one's actions regarding this whole affair was "stupid", it would be Obama's own words. I hope the Republicans capitalize on this horrible mistake Obama has made here. The vast majority of Americans, black or white, favor the policeman in this case, saying he was only doing his job in investigating a possible break in. Black America, whether you are President of the U.S.A. or a Harvard professor, it is time to check your arrogance and stop presuming the whole world is targeting you for punishement because you are black.
    Sam Chandra

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. JerseyGirl

    Of course, the republican party has a problem with it. They have a problem with everything this man does. I wonder if they know they are about to put their foot in their mouth!!

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Joe Dokes

    When that professor produced his I.D., the incident was over! The cops SHOULD have apologized profusely and left very quickly. That didn't happen apparently. Were they dealing with a p*ssed off homeowner? Well, sure, it's his house! And they were treating him like a criminal. I think Obama was right when he said they acted stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. chrys

    OMG will the repugs EVER let up? They want any chance to take our president down, and they couch it behind coy terms like "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."

    Not only did the cops act stupidly, but the GOP is acting stupidly too. Just one more shrill-voiced petty piece of nonsense...

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. jobo2612

    GOP needs to get a clue.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Stu-Florida

    He's absolutely right. Race sadly still does remain a factor in America. There are many "citizens" still angry and insulted that we have an African-American President. This is especially true in the "good old South". Many want to see him fail simply because he is black. Many want to see him succeed for the same reasons. When will we have the time where he/she is just a person?

    No one can convince me that he (Gates) looked like he was doing any kind of B&E, especially the way he was dressed. I'm sure this particular "officer" was just thrusting his authority.
    More appauling... the Philedelphia PD with their own disgusting overflowing racism website.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    Go ahead GOP, fight on race. We all know you do not like minorities, even though you have become a minority now!

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. Americans Unite

    Why can't the citizens of this country come together? Whether you voted for this President or not, he seems to actually be concerned about the plight of us regular folks and yet you have a GOP that keeps trying to stir up angry mobs against him and the DEMS who don't seem to know how to do anything.

    I for one, want this country to thrive and succeed. The policies of the past administration allowed for us to be spied on, they almost took our Social Security and privatized it (that would have disappeared with the Wall Street meltdown) and we are constantly gouged by private healthcare, and with the mention of competition, everyone goes ballistic on a man (a human being who is an AMERICAN citizen) who is trying to pull us back from the brink.

    Stop fighting everyone, sit down, relax, breathe, and try to find solutions to our vast array of problems. Political bickering hellps nothing.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. kelly

    No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home;

    ...what is wrong with the statement.......they did act stupidly or else they wont have dropped the charges..

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. ghost

    Geez, the man was asked a question and he answered given the info he had on hand. And yes, on the surface, it does seem odd that a man can be arrested for disorderly on his own porch for exchanging words with a cop.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. Kurt

    I knew that the fascists would jump on this. The man is a Professor, he showed them ID, but I guess that wasn't good enough. Cops are never wrong or rude, right?

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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