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. RI Moderate

    OF COURSE HE'S PLAYING THE RACE CARD!! And it will backfire on the Dems. What happened to 'dissent is patriotic'??? That was the mantra when Bush was in office. Now it's 'dissent is racist' .

    If you can't win an agrgument on merit, then start name calling.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Allentown

    Joe Wilson was one of 7 state legislators in S. Carolina who voted against removing the confederate flag from the state capitol building. Right, this isn't about race. No, can't be. Why do you think the south is solid republican? No, couldn't be about race.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Tabeth

    Dear Americans,

    Former President Carter is not palying the race card!
    Look into your own concience and find out by yourself.

    Obama is doing the best of how one knows what to do
    A credit to what he has done so far should be appreciated!


    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Cliff

    Jimmy speaks the truth.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Eric

    It's the tea partiers who are playing the race card with pictures of Obama as a witch doctor and calling him a Muslim thug.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Michael M. Noonan

    A wholly gratuitious and obtuse comment by the worst president in history.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Meanwhile as the Republicans and the Democrats continue to point fingers at each other and call each other racists, the American citizen is being slowly enslaved to a national debt of 13 trillion dollars. The American citizen is facing a bleak future of joblessness and unemployment or underemployment, loss of their Freedom and Liberty.
    If you trusted your government to help you, then you trusted wrong. It is time to trust yourself to do what is right, and vote these two parties out, and vote for the return of Constitutional law.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Roger

    I agree, but then we all knew this was going to happen. Many Americans dream has come true. A black president. Now back to reality. Racism is just the way it will always be. Pointing fingers at one man for saying someting racial is pointless. We're all racists deep down. But Carter states the obvious, which is playing the race card.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Polar Bears Against Palin

    It is racism. Jimmy Carter is right on!!

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Florida Dude

    Jimmy Carter is right on the money. People who say otherwise are either blind or lying. There should always be debate on policy but there just seems to be a rancor to this that goes much father than policy debate.

    September 16, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. Susan

    You Republicans can lie to yourselves all you want, and you can lie to us all you want, but we aren't blind or deaf, we see what you are doing, putting this President down every chance you get, we are not deaf we hear you calling him a lier, socialist, hitler, communist, everyname in the book and it is RACIST, that's what it looks like to us, that's what it sounds like to are not fooling don't think that Black people are smart enough to run this country and you don't want a Black person running this country.........YOU ARE RACIST....... and I am a white person and I can see through your lies, President Carter is right he should know, he lives in the South and it is this Racist attitudes that will cause the Repblicans to lose again and again and again. The other republicans that are not from the south and don't feel the way some of your GOP leaders feel you better start speaking up........remember the old saying "You can draw more Flies with Sugar than Vinagar" So far all I hear coming out of these Republicans is VINAGAR......................and that isn't going to get them anywhere

    September 16, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Michael

    When are all these idiots, Jimmy Carter included *although I think he was a great man* going to realize that Obama is a Black American, or just an AMERICAN!!!! Not an african american, because to be an african american you must be born in africa and now reside in america, and if that was the case, then he couldn't be president per the laws of our own constitution!!! so stop calling him an african american.. he is an AMERICAN.. plain and simple, just like you, just like me, and just like everyone else in this country.

    This is why you can't get anything done with healthcare in this country, because you want to label everyone as liberals, republi-cant's, and demo-craps, instead of AMERICANS.. and Until you label these people what they are, being AMERICANS, you won't get anything done.

    September 16, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |

    STEP 1: Choose the following ingredients that invoke feelings of strong dislike: 1) government spending; 2) government intrusion into private life; 3) government intrusion into economy; 4) black people. (NOTE: don’t give any thought to the fact that the first three ingredients were major sins of the Bush administration.)

    STEP 2: Cultivate your Obama-Hate by choosing other targets (many have already been irrationally related to Obama for your convenience by manipulative people, who have made them to seem insidious by repeating nonsense about them in continuous loops). Suggested targets include: health care reform (think: NOBAMA CARE, death panels, pulling the plug on grandma); bailout of auto industry; bailout of financial sector; taxes; “czars” (especially black “czar” Van Jones); ACORN (especially the organization’s black employees); socialism + fascism + Hitler; the Joker from the Batman Dark Knight movie.

    STEP 3: Combine, shake, AND HATE ON!

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Omkar Suchit

    Carter is a respectful and respectable man, unlike Steele.

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. jason, tx

    Of course they do. They would never admit their racist motivations.

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. dft

    So the republicans use Carter's use of the race card to distract from the fact they haven't offered a valid alternative to the status quo on health care. It is certain that race is involved with some of the outbursts and the ease at which some can so easily belive that Obama is a Muslum and a non-citizen.

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. DF

    Former president Carter is calling it as it truly is. I am middle aged white and independent voting . Intitally I had some concerns about President Obama before the election and was leaning towards Hillary Clinton as the DNC Nominee.

    I have come to respect President Obama for waht he is trying to do in fixing the economy and making changes to our backward healthcare system.

    In fact I believe that a single-payer system would work best because it would be a not-for profit set-up like other advanced countries but the public/private system would be a better system than what we now have.

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    He's not playing the race card. He's just stating the obvious. For those who can't see the dirty tactics these right wing loons are playing, you are just blind.

    September 16, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. ajks

    Jimmy Carter is just saying the truth–what others have been afraid to bring up. There are not just a "few signs" that are at the protesting rallies that are inappropriate, such as Obama in whiteface, etc.–there are several. The Tea Party Express could take care of this controversy the same way John McCain stops crowds and tells them when they are being inappropriate. It seems that most of the Republicans are willing to put up with anything to get what they want.

    September 16, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Kathy

    Carter is just voicing what we all know to be true. I guess we should have expected this, racism is alive and well, especially in the South. The Republicans can deny it if they want but there is no doubt that it is true.

    September 16, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Librarian

    No he is not playing the race card. He is telling the truth as it is. That in this country, mostly in the South but also elsewhere there are people who can't accept the fact that our democratically elected Presidient happens to be black. It is shameful.

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Nancy - Houston

    "Such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to disparage all who disagree with them," so says Steele. Huh?? I say "it takes one to know one." The Republicans are best at that!!!

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Ken

    Sure he's playing the 'race' card. That's because, even though there are racists everywhere of every stripe, there are a significant number of white racists in the [R] party. That's not to say every [R] is a racist, but even the non-racist [R]s are deluded if they don't think a significant majority of their southern base is racist.....and it is the [R] base that screeches the loudest and it is the [R] base that seems to be driving the absolute lunacy we see from the birth-baggers and from congressional [R]s. To 'blame' Carter for recognizing [R] racism is like blaming Obama for the sun being so hot in the desert.

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Dave From Philly

    Wow RNC Chairman Michael Steele still has his job. It must be because he is black. So, who played the race card by selecting him to run the RNC?

    I rember how Cynthia McKinney(?) was taking to task for her behavoir. Some of it I agreed with and some I did not. However when another congressman, a republican displayed McKinney like behavoir he was treated differently. I wonder why?

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Expat American

    "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.
    Yet Steele wants to stand in front of national (and international) TV audience and call out terms like 'momma' and 'off da hook'. Who is he trying to reach with this approach; the tired old white men in Washington or the backwoods inbred Palin rednecks in the trailer park? What is he trying to do besides perpetuate the very perception already held dear by many voters within his own party? Steele is a fool. Not a white fool. Not a black fool. Steele is a human being who is a fool and a patsy.

    Nice try, Steele.

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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