September 16th, 2009
11:37 AM ET
14 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. PAUL W

    No kidding Michael. He's playing it because it is accurate.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Karen

    Jimmy Carter has no clue. The reason people are not agreeing with Obama is because his healthcare plan (?) is ludicrous. If it was because he was black, I don't think he would have been elected. Isn't everyone tired of hearing about "supposed racism"? I know I am.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. R

    Yes, and the Republicans trot out their one black leader in any position of power to make the statement. I don't believe the Republican leadership is racist per se, but Steele's comments miss the mark. The point made by President Carter, Maureen Dowd, and an increasing chorus of concerned citizens is that there is not mere opposition to President Obama's plan. Rather, there is outright hatred of President Obama personally. He is a socialist, marxist, kenyan masquerading as an American. He is "dangerous" to your children. He's trying to take away everything you own. He's an Nazi and a Communist (even if those ideologies were fiercly opposed to one another). The point is, while the Republican leadership may or may not have issues witha black president. They have stoked and whipped an Angry White Right into a frenzy by playing to racial fear. That was President Carters point.

    September 16, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Nedra Johnson

    Who does the RNC think they are kidding? Of course Racism is part of their problem with Obama. With Limbaugh and Beck as the spokeperson for the party, what do they expect the public to think. Racism has not gone away people and the fact the Obama won so decisively, has brought the feelings and prejudices to the surface. Michael Steele sounds like the House Slave telling the Field Slaves that "Massa is a good man so do what he says".

    September 16, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Gloria

    Michael Steele is a FOOL!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Mark

    Nobody cared what carter said when he was one of our worst presidents, why try and make a news story out of this?

    September 16, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. nanbar

    President Carter is saying what many people have been seeing. He said there is an element of racism. Just look at the some of the signs held up at the 9-12 event in DC. A large percentage of the so-called "birthers" didn't think Hawaii was a state. I haven't seen many, if any, minorities in this group. I am sure there are many people in this group who are not racist and have genuine concerns. However, I am also sure it gives the true racists in this county some wonderful cover to express their views..

    September 16, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Jackie in Dallas

    Yes, 'Uncle Tom' Steele, Carter was "playing the race card" because it is becoming blindingly obvious that race IS an issue. Nazi chants and use of the German swastika at GOP-sponsored rallies are being egged on by your bosses, Rush and Beck. Did you notice in the 60,000 member march (although Rush said 2 million), there was hardly a single black face, nor many of any other minority? I'm a 59-year old southern white woman, and I have no problem seeing it at all.

    If a black member of the House of Representatives had shouted "you lie" to President Bush, not only would the Republicans be enraged, but the Democrats would have too. Instead, Wilson's GOP brothers gathered around and supported him - a man who is unabashedly proud of being a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and who supported flying the Confederate flag above the State Legislature building in South Carolina. Sorry, Steele, in my view that is pretty racist!

    September 16, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Gary

    Steel dosen't realize he is a token black. If Obama wasn't elected Steel would't be the RNC chairman. It's just like Palin was the token woman to counter Hillary. Steel is in his position to give the GOP cover.

    September 16, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. James O'Leary

    While i disagree with former President Carter on many issues, I do firmly agree he is on the target with these remarks.

    It has to as much with a natural resistance to change as it does a relative sense of "historical white american centrism" under attack by the election of an African-American President.

    Carter has hit a nerve and the response by the RNC has been emotional, not rational.

    His comments are worthy of national debate.

    September 16, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Soren

    Steele is an incompetent idiot. He gets it wrong every time.
    Sooner or later the republicans must do something.

    September 16, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Really

    Minorities should step up to plate on this one and say enough is enough. You can not play the race card everytime someone disagrees with the President. It is about policies and ideas. It is like the little boy crying wolf. I believe there is racism left in this country but not in the opposition to Obama. I can not stand Biden's ideas or policies either. He appears to be white.

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. mjm

    Democrats will always use race as a crutch.

    Obama didn't write HR 3200 or the Senate bill. White congressmen and senators did.

    It's about policy, plain and simple.

    If I had been debating the bill in the house for the past several months, and I heard Obama's speech, I would have yelled out as well.

    Obama was lying and Wilson called him on it. Race had nothing to do with it.

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Ron

    Man, now they drag the old dog out from under the porch.

    Carter is wrong, divisive and "intellectually dishhonest".

    He is an old inconsequential, one term president trying to reclaim his glory days (at least as he saw them).

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Judi

    I believe President Carter is right!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Ajai

    Why is it now that when someone says that the irrational behavior we are seeing across this country is raciall motivated, all of a sudden they are playing the "Race Card". I truly believe all the protest and outrage are racially motivated. Look at the crowds!! They aren't diverse. The people at these protests and rallies look like inbreds. When Bush was in office, anyone that said anything against him were deemed as "unpatriotic. But now, with all these protesters and idiots bringing weapons to rally, the excuse is that these people are expressing the 1st and 2nd amendment rights. Please give me a break. Wake up America!! This country is made up of people from all walks of life and that includes race. So those of you that hide behind excuses to express your ignorance and hatred..I say to you...GET OVER IT!!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. cjr

    oh right – so to speak – republicans are protesting a little too much – look at the leadership a bunch of old white guys – the nasty comments of the tea baggers – who belong to organizations paid for the the right wing – the comments directed at Sotemayer – this is the old Nixon speech "I am not a crook" republicans =racist.

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. luva the scissors

    in the absence of any real defense they will claim racism. sweet. that is all they have because they most certainly won't talk about the elephant in the middle of the room. i wonder how they would feel to have the tables turned and be called racist because they want government accountability, wait won't happen, they throw that out the window.

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Native Californian

    President Carter is only stating what many people are thinking. I admire his efforts to bring this difficult subject forward.

    September 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. J.P.

    When you can't defend the Koreshian cultist holy-roller born-again religion of liberalism in any logical manner ("no, really, me taking money out of your paycheck is GOOD for you... serious"), the last resort is hysterical spittle-flying cries of "YERARAYSISSST!!!"

    Racism is the last refuge of undefendable liberalism.

    When we vehemently disagreed with Bill Clinton over these very same issues, for the very same reasons, was that racism, too?

    Can it just possibly be that Americans full-well KNOW what you're selling and they simply are not buying it anymore? Nah, couldn't be that! I mean, how could ANYONE disagree with the cult of "robbing Peter to buy Paul's vote with Gubmint Goodies?" Why, it MUST be racism.

    2010 is coming, hope-smokers... beat the rush, pack your bags now.

    September 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. JK from Houston, TX

    President Carter is right. Just visit Mark William's, one of the Tea Party Organizers, blog.

    September 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. Charles

    I agree that it's not ALL ABOUT RACISM, but there is a great deal of racism surging lately. Signs showing President Obama as a witch doctor, a nazi, comments relating the president to a monkey, etc. What i've yet to see, even a little bit, is the leaders of these tea party movements standing up to these so-called 'fringe elements' and disowning them DURING THE EVENTS. If you are leading an event, and this is taking place, and you ignore and allow it, YOU ARE PROMOTING IT. End of story.

    September 16, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. al in memphis

    Our problems are serious enough that we need to get past this, but the truth is reality and Pres Carter was right. You don't go from have people admit that they could not see themselves voting for a black canidate in November and then accepting his as the nation leader several months later.
    As Americans, we might not like the picture of racism that we see in the mirror, but let's stop insulting each other intelligence that it does not exist for President Obama.
    The shame is futher compounded by our refusal to admit that we are not strong enough to work through political divides, social economic divides, and racial divides. Our Midevil thinking is starting to abound.

    September 16, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Al

    Like the Nazi party, the Democrats are using race arguments to squelch all dissenting political opinion. People now fear disagreeing with those in power for fear they will be labeled and politically sequestered as a "racist." Continued reliance on the race card alienates voters. Be smart Democrats. I'm one of you and I'm tired of feeling that race trumps freedom of speech.

    September 16, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. thanks, but no thanks

    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."... As Jonny Mac would say "you can not be serious"... How about that 15% of the population who stated that they would not vote for a black man as president? Do you think they changed their mind overnight? Of course, it is all about race. And Michael Steele, if you seriously can not see it, you sir must be blind. How much minority did you see at tea parties??? Correct sir, the answer is none.

    September 16, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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