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. shari

    Now the rebublicans have started referring to race issues like it is a card game. If thats the case you can only play with what you have.

    September 16, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. Zion

    Every criticism againt President Obama is not racist, but the media conveiently covers the racists who are against Pres. Obama. For example, Anderson Cooper interviewed one of the "leaders" of the Tea Party movement. He said, Pres. Obama was behaving like a Muslim by taxing people. If you are against being taxed further, that is a legitimate position, but what did being Muslim have to do with it? Please.

    September 16, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. rethuglicans= extremists

    Those stupid southerners think that this country only belongs to them. Jimmy Carter is right. Racism is the cause of all of this. Those racists bigots use health care as a opportunity to expresss their anger toward the black president.

    September 16, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Rob Johnson

    You don't have to be a racist to oppose Obama's policies, I think we can all agree on that. Carter isn't talking about a civilized policy debate, but rather the incredible animosity and anger towards Obama among a certain, hopefully minority, segment of the right wing.

    I don't think it's policy that makes these people hate Obama so much. As Carter says, it goes deeper than that. They don't like HIM, as a person, much like with Bill Clinton, and they just can't accept that somebody who isn't "their kind of American" is running the country.

    For some of those people, race makes Obama the "other." For some, they can't get past his name and are just SO sure he is a secret Muslim spy who is out to destroy America from within. Others get hung up on his liberal "Marxist" views.

    The one thing the extreme anti-Obama fringe has in common is a fixed belief that anything Obama does is wrong and evil, just because Obama did it. Policy has nothing to do with it. I am pessimistic that there is anything rational people can do to get this crowd to realize that, even if Obama is wrong, he isn't some cartoon supervillain version of the Anti-Christ out to destroy us all.

    September 16, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Todd

    This is only gonna get worse. Race has ALWAYS been an issue in this country even if we have an African American President. If anybody blames racism (even if its true) on a problem in the U.S they are playing "the race card". Why do people bring the confederate flag to health care rallies? Why do people still insist that President Obama was not born in the U.S? Why do they still think he's a muslim? And the crazy thing is that the media picks up on this stuff like it could be true.Would this be happening if our President was white???

    September 16, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. robc

    Michael steele is just a house slave. I bet uncle tom agrees with carter 100%. Everyone knows u got your job because we had a black president elected and the republicans had to try and look good. What an idiot. Even with all the racial remarks and inuendos coming from the republican leaders and commentators this guy still believes that race is not involved in the opposition. Even though 99% of the protestors are old white people and the media struggles to find minority faces at these events he still believes race is not a factor. Get real steele thehealt health h"health

    September 16, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. Joe

    No one cares what Carter thinks.

    September 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Mokondis Smith

    I think that Carter's dementia has continued since his Presidency.

    He really should stick to building houses and growing peanuts.

    Carter has probably caused more damage to this country since his presidency than any other in recent memory.

    If he thinks that Wilson’s remark is racist then he is implying that all black people are liars. Wilson’s remark may have been poorly timed but nothing more!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. DJH

    President Carter is completely correct. I am a white, Republican, retired US Army LTC, who lives in South Carolina. I can't write the sort of things that I hear publicy stated here every day. "That (n-word) in the White House...." is usually how the sentence begins. If you read the things that all the South Carolina papers print in the letters to the editor section, you would be appalled. These people down here were all Democrats and hated Republicans because President Lincoln "freed the slaves." They all became Republicans in 1964 and now hate Democrats because President Johnson "gave blacks the vote." If you think this is not about racism you are deluding yourself. Come live in the South for a while. Down here they are for Freedom of Speech, "as long as it's speech I agree with."... and Freedom of Religion, "as long as it's my religion."

    September 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Paul

    Sorry Steele but I live down here in the South, and I run into die hard GOPer's here daily who are full of explictives referencing to the Presidents race. Southern racism is alive and well and I'm sure exists elsewhere as well.

    September 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Leo Kishore

    Maybe so, but the GOP needs a swift kick in the rear about using and believing in the race card.

    There are plenty of Republicans who don't succumb to such nonsense. However, many do AND they are very vocal about it, not to mention stubborn as hell. And their notion of reality needs to be called into questions.

    To note, I think there are some crazy as hell and very vocal people on the left too, but historically they haven't been anywhere near as damaging as the vocal right. that because of 'tradition'.

    September 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. LacrosseMom

    President Carter is correct. It doesn't take a genius to see the ethnic make-up of the Tea-Baggers, for instance, is all.........white. Look at the video, read the comments on their web site. In fact, when CNN's Anderson Cooper, had the ring-leader of the Tea-Baggers, on, along with James Carville and David Gergen; the ring-leader of the Tea-Baggers called President Obama, "an Indonesian-Muslim-socialist-thug."
    IF this is not a racist remark, what is?

    What's most disturbing to me, a Christian, is that these far-right-folks, claim to be ...... Christian!

    I ask, what gospel are you people reading? The gospel of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, etc. ? OR the Gospels of Jesus Christ?

    September 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. Jimmy

    Mr.Steele!!, please shut up. You are the republicans are scaring people (as always) for a supposedly good system that would provide health coverage to the millions and also keep the insurers under check for their often illegal and immoral practices.

    September 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Sanders

    I'm sorry, but wait a minute. Didn't the Republicans [try to] use the "female card" (to their advantage, or so they thought) when Palin was the VP running mate?

    "OH, hold on, hold on you Democrats, you! You're exhibiting sexism against our VP running mate because she's a FEMALE and a MOM, and because I KNOW it can't have anything to do with the fact that there's no substance to her "polices" or "platform"!"

    But they're bigger than that now? How convenient.

    I don't know if Jimmy's right or wrong, but people shouldn't spout off against "rhetoric" that they themselves use. What's that called again?

    Oh yeah. Being a Republican.

    September 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. KiloWhiskey - Denver

    Way to go Jeeemy.....throwing gas on the fire to help put it out. He's an embarassment along with his comments.

    September 16, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. KJ

    I think there is truth in Carter's statement. It is a bit unnerving and disturbing, the level of animosity and hostility directed towards the president. It suggestes there are deeper issues at play other than just policy differences.

    Republicans are trying to push that under the rug, but it doesn't change the truth!

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. B

    People refuse to admit that RACE is STILL a huge problem in this country and especially in politics.

    Carter is correct as he has lived with it in all aspects, personal and political all of his life.

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. babaganusch

    All the Democrats seem to know how to do is play the race card. I'm sick of it! I'm a Republican. I oppose President Obama's health care reform proposals on legitimate grounds. And former President Carter calls me a racist?

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Mike

    so if you disagree with the President or his policies you are a racist, nice....

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Sean

    GOP playing reverse race card... remember? Rush said reverse racial discrimination? GOP is making use of white fear sentiment to build their base. Just count the number of people at the tea party who are non-white... you will begin to realize that. Sarah Palin's "real America" are 95% white... yeap, when you're not in that part of the country, you're not real America...

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Ann Brown

    I cannot understand how people can claim to be Christians and sit in church every Sunday but can say "Let them pay for healthcare like I do". Do they realize that everyone cannot pay for healthcare like they do. A lot of the uninsureds or underinsured can barely feed themselves let alone afford the type of medical care that these inhumane people receive. And regarding the race card. You have to be blind not to see what is happening. For one thing no one ever expected President Obama to win the presidency ( for some). And when he did there was a shock over the nation ( for some). Now that the shock is over they have set out to undermind anything President Obama is proposing to make this nation great. And it is not that they don't know or understand how we got to this economic dilemma, they can't see President Obama as being the person who can be the one to put this nation where it should be. So who is really playing the card.

    September 16, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Jon

    Much of the dislike of President Obama has to do with partisanship, not race. After all, where were the teabaggers when Presidents Reagan and Bush ran up the deficit? However, the visceral reaction of some of these people against President Obama knows no bounds and leads one to wonder if something else, namely race, is lurking beneath the surface. I imagine we'll find out when immigration is placed on the agenda.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Mr E

    OF course President Carter is Right. Racism is a hidden truth no body wants to talk about. President Carter - there is a place in heaven for you . Good luck in your struggle to free the oppressed.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Daniel

    Closet bigotry exist. Many of all races will never admit to being bigots, but their actions and comments reveal the true feelings. I have heard comments from people from all over in my travels that show true feelings. President Carter said it right but his words were not strong enough, a diplomat.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Ann

    Jimmy Carter is an idiot. What kind of leader would make this sort of blanket comment? Of course Hamas loves Jimmy Carter so I'm going to extrapolate that into "all guys named Jimmy are terrorists".

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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