September 16th, 2009
11:37 AM ET
13 years ago

Republicans say Carter playing 'race card'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Republicans say Carter is playing the 'race card.'"]
(CNN) - The Republican National Committee is hitting back at former President Jimmy Carter's recent comments stating racial politics has played a role in some of the opposition the president has faced since taking office and in South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's speech to Congress last week.

"President Carter is flat out wrong. This isn't about race. It is about policy," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement Wednesday. "This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president's wildly unpopular government-run health care plan that the American people simply oppose."

"Injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families doesn't create jobs, reform our health care system or reduce the growing deficit. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation," Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, also said.

Carter's comments came in an interview with NBC News Tuesday, during which he stated, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American."

Carter made similar remarks at an event at his presidential center in Atlanta, Georgia, pointing to some protesters who have compared Obama to a Nazi. "Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," the former president said at the Carter Center, according to AP. "It's deeper than that."

Steele said such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to "disparage all who disagree with them."

"Playing the race card shows that Democrats are willing to deal from the bottom of the deck. Our political system has no place for this type of rhetoric," said Steele.

(Steele will visit The Situation Room Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm ET)

Follow Alex Mooney on Twitter @awmooneycnn

Filed under: Jimmy Carter • RNC
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Rick in OP

    Go ahead and throw the race card and call us “racists” all you want, it is not going to work any more. As in the story about the little boy who cried wolf, this ploy has been used so often in the past it no longer has any meaning. What it does indicate is that those people who constantly accuse others of racism are unable to debate the merits of their positions and as a default they resort to throwing the race card.
    It is especially sad to see the supporters of the Obama Administration with full control of White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the support of the national news media resort to these tactics when they are unable to shove their socialist polices down our throats. Then to have Jimmy Carter, the ultimate example of presidential incompetence, accuse others of racism is the final confirmation of the fallacy of this allegation.
    If you call me a racist, I will wear the title with pride. It means my brain still functions and that I have enough backbone to stand up for my beliefs.

    September 16, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Kevin

    But it's true and most people can see that...

    September 16, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Capt. Snarky

    Carter's statements are nothing but attempt to stifle dissension. It's not the color of his skin – it's the radical change, the social and economic shift towards Big Government that is driving this issue, and the Deceptacons (including Mr. Carter) KNOW IT! They know no one wants to be painted with the Racist Brush, and they are using it to shut the electorate up! You can't deny it......

    September 16, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Question

    Steele is a perfect example of the republicans playing that card.

    September 16, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. Chris

    I love how he characterizes health reform with approval ratings anywhere from 50-70 percent (depending on the wording in the poll) as "wildly unpopular". I think the term would be more-accurately applied to his own party's performance on this issue.

    September 16, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. inofritzn

    I used to have respect for Carter, but seriously, is he for real? Look at all the criticism dumped on Pelosi, Reed, Dodd etc.. is that all race inspired criticism also???? Probably should retire Carter

    September 16, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. eolufemi

    Socialism card versus the racism card...


    September 16, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Laura

    Joe Wilson shouted "You Lie" at Obama- so what??? Pete Stark (D-CA) called Bush a liar on the house floor. The Democrat majority chose not to punish him. Bush was booed in a State of Union address by Democrats- respectful of a President? NO. The Dems did A LOT worse to Bush than anything that has occured towards Obama.

    CNN start covering some real news like the ACORN scandal. Where is that? This is a government funded organization extremely close to Obama. Stop coddling Obama and report the news to the American people!

    September 16, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Joyce in South Carolina

    I value President Carter's opinion far more than anything the Republicans have to say.

    Jimmy Carter is an amazing person and deserves our respect, as does President Obama.

    I live in the south and can tell you that I know many racist people and they all claim to be republicans.

    It is very sad that in 2009 we can't look beyond the color of a person's skin.

    September 16, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. once upon a horse

    funny how I didn't see Mike Steele up there talking at any of these tea parties. In fact I didn't even see anybody that LOOKED like him other than the pictures of President Obama looking like Hitler or a witch doctor. Steele may look and act stupid, but trust me he KNOWS he woulld not have been welcomed at this type of rally no more than he would have been at a Palin rally. Keep you heads in the sand folks, it's only going to get worse.

    September 16, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Dave

    I don't think racism is behind all of the Republican attacks on Obama. For the most part, their radicalized and corrupted version of Christianity has them brainwashed into thinking all Democrats are "teh EVIL!!!!!!1!!" and that's the core of most of it. But that there is a heavy racist component for some is undeniable. You can see that much in many of the hateful signs the "tea baggers" have been displaying, and their hypocrisy to have never complained when Bush was doing even worse things.

    I don't think all Republicans are racist, and people can certainly take issue with President Obama for reasons that have nothing to do with his color... but to deny that there is a racist element for the extreme hatred pouring out of many on the right is disingenous.

    September 16, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. ~~ July ~~ ( Working HARD to make TX Blue )

    Pres. Carter is not playing the 'race card' .. he is just showing your deck of cards and on the top just happen to be ' the race card' ... in the middle the ' scare card' and at the bottem the ' dumb card'

    September 16, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. liz

    There they go again! projecting every slimy thing they do onto the Democrats. the Republicans are the ones who disparage all who disagree with them, calling them un-American and accusing them of hating this country. And they are flat out lying about Americans 'simply opposing' health care reform. I guess when they use the phrase 'American people,' that only refers to republican American people. If these people even remotely grasped the concept of hypocrisy, maybe they wouldn't be continually embodying it.

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Expat American

    Of course many Republicans (and their voters) are going to accuse anyone of playing the race card; perhaps to cover up the fact that for many Republican voters, this has been the first time in their lives that they had to give race a second though? This fact angers many Republican voters. It's as if these people in question can no longer ignore the racism that they will never experience and no longer take for granted the very social mechanisms that dictated that their pure white Aryan skin and their lives are of greater value than those with 'dark skin'.

    Are all Republican voters racists? No. But those who are seem very proud of the fact that they are. They hide behind terms like socialism, terrorist, communist; terms they barely understand.

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Troy from NJ

    What President Carter is sayin is true. The only faces you see in the crowd are white angry faces saying hateful things. It is what it is. These are the same people who attended the McCain and Palin rallies saying they would never vote for a N word. Come on people lets be honest, I am not saying all of the conservatives protesting Obama are racist, but the one who line up behind, Limbuagh, Beck and Hannity are mostly racist!!!

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. Travis In Colorado

    I'm just shocked that a Democrat would try and play the race card. That's all democrats can do is to pander to minorites and play the race card whenever something isn't going right for them. And another thing, supposedly Obama was born in America, in Hawaii, so that would make him American, not African American. He wasn't born in Africa (wink wink) so let's all stop using that phrase. You can say black American, you can say American, but stop using the term african because it just shows what an idiot you are.

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. TCM

    Carter showed us what he's made off when he was president; a total nancy-boy....someone find his dentures on the floor, shove them in his mouth and send that blabbering old fool back home....obviously, after all these years, he's also showing his racist side! Pandering to the blacks for votes by creating something out of nothing...seems like ol' Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had their limelight stolen by a crusty old white guy...

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. kathy

    Former Pres. Carter is NOT wrong.....he just has the guts to say the truth! It is unfortunate for this country to have such racsim...the civil war is over folks and everyone who feels the need to slam the president because of his skin color needs to be ashamed. This is 2009...and races other than white are exemplifying greatness. Get used to it!...and for those that are colorblind...get over it! the presdient can and will do a good job. At least he is mature and educated enough NOT to let the simplemindedness of the racist effect him or his judgements! The only reason the teabag express is chuggin' away is because it's fueled by racism....the clown "Mark Williams...gheesh...he needs to crawl back under his rock and take all his hate supporters w/him...reminds me of the Palin rallies where they incited hate!...the republicans are racists and bigots!...I'm ashamed to have once associated myself w/the party~

    September 16, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. VP

    I fully agree with Presidents Carter's assessment. It is indeed racism. There is no other way to spin it.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. mfelder

    As an African American Woman, I think the former president was accurate in his statement. There are a number of Americans who do not believe that President Obama or any Black Man or woman is qualified to run this country. And in order to prove their point, they have to oppose any policy he puts forth. What would happen if his policies does work. Perhaps, all the lies they told themselves and their children would no longer be valid and we will eventually live in a country where people are not judge by their skin color but by the content of their character. What a novel concept.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. SLM

    Ya think?? Calling Obama a liar has nothing to do with race, he lied, quit trying to make excuses and blame everything on race. It appears the race card players are doing more to divide this country. Those who say the Tea baggers are racist are just as clueless, again it's nothing to do with race, it's about taxes Stupid. Is it that hard to believe we are sick and tired of paying more and more taxes and have our money wasted on corrupt organizations.............ACORN, who are scheduled to get 8.5 Billion? Geez, the white guy lost.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Kevin in Ohio

    He IS playing the race card.....we are not just saying it. It is the knee-jerk liberal response to any disagreement with this President. The Republican party has many many successful African Americans, including Mr Steele, and we hope many more will someday see the light..... democrats are more interested in maintaining their constituency of African Americans by giving them hand-outs that prevent their own success and growth. The left-wing liberals are the true racists.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. Omkar Suchit

    Carter is absolutely correct. He is old enough and free enough to speak the truth. Steele is not!

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Tim

    I believe Wilson commented about the Presidents health care plan, how in the world do you relate that to racism?

    I think Mr. Carter should be placed in a chair down by a brook so as to continue his babbling...

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Steve (the real one)

    Sorry guys but Carter is both right and wrong! It is wrong to paint an entire people with the same brush strokes of a group of ignorant hacks! So yes, there is an element of racism, we all saw the signs HOWEVER, don't get too giddy liberals. Racism is not bound by party lines nor skin color! There are racists your party too! There were
    (and still are) liberal racists who stared down Bush, remember? Looks like a little house cleaning is required all the way around, wouldn't you say? No execuse for any of it, IF you were being fair!

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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