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)

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Filed under: Jimmy Carter • RNC
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. walter barnes III

    Thank you President Carter you have brought to light what most african-americans have been thinking since Barrack's election. The white can't stand to see a black man in charge. Look at 90% of the work space how many blacks do you see in charge, not many. Maybe it is because I am from a small town but around here the whites hate to put or see a black man in charge. The whites try to hide there racism but they don't realize that we blacks see it, you give yourself away yall are not doing a very good job of covering your ass. I don't want to tell you in this e-mail all the other ways the whites show there racism. Maybe I will write a book and call it, "HIDDEN RACISM". Or maybe a short film inside places of employment, and schools, and call it, HIDDEN RACISM EXPOSED.

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. sara-fl

    Yeah and what were the tea parties signs, doing? I guess celebrating President Obama, with a bone thru his nose dress up as a native african , or what it the signs that says bury obama with kennedy. HOw about showing up at the townhalls with guns...hipocrites....

    September 16, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. DonnaLee

    As a southerner, President Jimmy has grown up surrounded by images and examples of racism. So I guess he has a unique unbiased perspective on the subject.

    I am so white I glow in the dark. I grew up in a very southern family, and totally agree with Carter. What we see is racism pure and simple.

    The screaming mobs that are out there arn't bad folks. They are just what they have been taught. That being white is good, and being black is something else ... You know ... that Cain and Able kinda stuff.

    If I had a nickle for every time I heard my family members utter the "N" word I'd have a really big old bag of nickles.

    Let's be honest about it. The south lost the war, they lost their slaves, and they are bitter over some imagined affront to their white way of life.

    September 16, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Connie, Indiana

    Steele, you darn good and well that some of this is race related, it you of all people don't see this than you are bigger fool than I had thought.

    September 16, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    The idiot makes such stupid statements. That is why he was only elected to one term as president and why his administration was such a failure. In spite of the libs trying to make this about race( they love playing any kind of demonization game) instead of the major policy issues shows their moral bankruptcy. This is the same kind of games unions play and those are the same folks that are running the democrats (as well as ACORN) now. I am not racist and I resent, like so many others in this country (as the dems will find out in 2010) being called names, by this administration and it water carriers. Carter should stay out of politics and sit at home reconsidering his failed presidency.

    September 16, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Tarheel

    Anybody who did not vote for President Obama or disagrees with any policies or bills Obama is trying to get passed for any reason is a Racist. Even former President Carter beleives that now. What a great weapon the Race Card is to have in your arsenal and to be able to whip out and use against anybody who may disagree with you.

    September 16, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Dave

    Why is it now, that if you disagree with the President you are considered a racist. I was led to believe that you could decide what your own thoughts should be, that there are more than one thought on an issue. I guess that does not seem to be the case in today's politics or media. So I guess if you disagree with me you don't like white people and your racist against me.

    September 16, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. S Callahana NYS

    It's almost amusing to see the CNN titles given....
    It's even more amusing to see the political hiarchey trying to 'distract' the population with nonesense allegations. Since when does standing up with a voice of protection of one's country become a symbol of racisim? It's a given right of 'every' citizen regardless of race, ethic, religion to express these rights and concerns without the labeling. I don't care what color, what religion, what ethnicity you profess...I do care that you are loyal to your country and it's values that have been sustaining yet in the last 40 years are being ripped apart....
    and we, as citizens, have been too quiet about it for too long. Enough.

    September 16, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Barb,

    Well, Steeles is doing what they put him in that office to do. Cover the White people's ass when they start to show their racial side. Why is he the one that they sent out their to make this statement. I guess Rush gave him permission. Look at the way his party is treating the President and he does not go out there and put a stop to the signs and other racial remarks that his GOP buddies are out there saying but he can find the time to object to the truth. Steeles knows it true but he is not MAN enough to stand up to Rush and the other racist in his party.

    September 16, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Joshua

    Whenever they are losing an argument they sling that race card. It never fails. The first nonracial President becomes all about race. Carter was the worst Presidnet of my lifetime and he has no credability. If it isn't this he is enabling terrorists & other America haters.

    September 16, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. andy

    Jimmy Carter needs to sit on his farm and be quiet. He has no evidence of racism in this case except his redneck past. Everywhere he goes he opens his mouth and appears worse then he did when he was president, and thats hard to do. The dems are playing the race card. If you disagree with Obama , it's race.

    September 16, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, North Carolina

    When you can't win on the merits, call your opponent a racist.

    September 16, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. James, Ho. TX

    "Race" has been an isssue since the first banana boat landed !
    Also, since Gen. Pershing invaded Mexico ! Remember "Green Grow the Lilacs". New day, same old same-O!

    September 16, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Michael (Nashville, TN)

    If this were about policy, they would be attacking what's in the bill, I've seen precious little of that. President Carter is right and Mr Steele is wrong and he knows it.

    September 16, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. GOPer

    Please. The fact that teabaggers, deathers, and birther fringe (talk about bottom of the deck) are overwhelmingly Caucasian is supposed to be some kind of "coincidence." Give me a break, Steele. That desperate assertion is a pathetic attempt at denial.

    Even the RNC had a deplorably racial CD distributed that insulted the black and Hispanic communities. Remember, Steele?

    Not to mention the GOPer in TN sending the racist presidential depiction to the "wrong list" and the tribal photoshop on Saturday (ad nauseum). These reprehensible examples sadly go on and on for the Party of No.

    America's great diversity surely deserves better.

    September 16, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Obama worst president EVER

    Jimmy Carter should just shut up already. Worst President Ever next to Obama.

    September 16, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Sorry, Republicans, I know the truth hurts. How many black faces were you able to count in the Tea- Baggers protest?

    September 16, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Ron

    I believe there are genuine and defensible policy disagreements with President Obama. I have the utmost respect for a civil debate on policy. What makes me suspect racism, at times, is the extreme emotion and incivility in many of the accusations hurled toward the President. Racism can be blatant or subtle. You don't have to use racist terms to be racist.
    But it also behooves us to be very cautious in accusing someone of racism.

    September 16, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. Truthiswhatweneed

    The token boy Steele needs to "shut up". He should be ashame of himself for being token for the Republicans. This is one lost brother that needs a slap back into reality.

    September 16, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. lefty loosy

    Jimmy Carter , an embarrassment to all Presidents.
    Shut up and go away

    September 16, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. Connie, Indiana

    Another thought, if this is scraping the bottom of the barrel, what is your group by going after seniors, women with breast cancer, now disabled children for the sake of the health care bill. Fear mongering, scaring the b-jesus out of seniors and now children. Look at the TEA party protest in Washington, what kind of signs did you see. If you people reading this don't believe me go to you tube and search 9/12TEA March Washington... and you can't believe what is said by some of these protestor.. So Steele you need to open your eyes to reality and not spout speaking points.

    September 16, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Renee' McDuffie

    He is not playing the race card. There is still racism in this country but no one wants to address it. It is not a oppisition to Pres. Obama he is not the one that is playing the card. If you look at how Pres. Obama won he did not win the white vote. It is ashame that a country such as ours that we can not come together on race.

    September 16, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. KM

    I am an African American male and while I cannot say that I think it is totally racism going on, that does not mean that I don't think that "something" is going on. There is a movement in this country by a small group of people that believe either you're with me or against me and there will be no middle ground. Some people think it is racism, loss of civility, disrespectful or whatever category you want to put it under, we can all agree that it is not helping to move this country forward.

    I believe that I do not have to tear one group down in order to lift another group up. We can agree to disagree but I think that it is the tone in which we are disagreeing that is causing everyone to sit back and say, "now what did he/she mean by that?"

    September 16, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Chuck

    No need to deny the history of the Republican Party. Former President Carter is right, all you have to do is look at current events and the political make-up of the country has a whole. But we will see what happens when it is time to go to the polls in 2012.


    September 16, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Evan

    Yeah there are republicans marching around with swastikas but Carter is the one playing the race card. That makes sense.

    September 16, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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