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. Jillie

    Republicas are so disgruntled, frustrated and at their wits end they don't know what to do. Nothing is working for them. They've tried distasteful propaganda, hate, violence, fear, bullying and many other tactics. They have nothing else. . . . The gOP is almost finished!!

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Janice in Atlanta

    Anyone who denies race is playing a part in the tone of the anti Obama Presidency is out of touch with reality. Steele is in denial.

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Bob in Pa

    Jimmy Carter is about as irrelevant as they come.
    He is a good humanitarian but was a terrible president and has been so far out of touch with America for over 20 years now.

    It is a waste of breath to argue with these people. They can't stand the fact that they have been called on their pseudo Communist agendas'. All they are interested in is power and will stoop to outright lies and misdirection to accomplish their takeover of our society. And yes Jimmy, I took it further than Nazi Socialism, I compared you and BO to a Communist.

    September 16, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. ICARE

    No. He's not playing the race card. As much as the ELEPHANTS hated Billy Boy, nobody spew out and flipped out when Billy was speaking his thoughts out on national public television.

    Wilson really didnt have any respect for Obie, the President of the United States.

    You can yell and scream anywehre, but please not in that chamber when a Prez speaks.

    September 16, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Peace

    How long will it take the Republicans to be in denial. If it is not race and it is about policy, why don┬Ęt you come with the alternative?
    Even the blind can notice this. Whether you like it or not.

    September 16, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Carter Is Correct

    But Carter is correct. When is the last time you have seen people protesting a President after only being in office after 7 months? Never.
    As soon as Obama won the election last November 2009, certain folks were gearing up for him, no matter what he did after being sworn in.

    September 16, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Lyle

    The Republicans are playing the race card, They just want to "pin-it" on someone else. Republicans are wolves in sheeps clothing.

    September 16, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Fred

    Confirming, yet again, what a mistake America made back in 1976 when Carter was elected as president of the United States.

    September 16, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. William

    The republican protocol when a member is called racist is to accuse the person bringing up his or her racism as "playing the race card" This way the Republicans have carte blanche in being racist. Funny that the press does not view such claims with skepticism.

    September 16, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. CensoredLikeIranByCNN

    Okay, maybe not all protestor are racist but the majority is! It is pretty obvious that racism still exist and has been fueld by the leaders of the rethuglican party. But who are the leaders of the right? I believe it is someone who is not in the national spot light and they work behind the curtains. I would like to know who told wilson to apologize (if you can call it that) because he obviously didn't want to but someone powerful made him do it. We should audit the rethuglican party they are hiding something...

    September 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. jfs Memhis, Tn

    From what I have seen over the last 5+ weeks the far right factions @ Town Hall Meetings, Tea Bagger Meetings, and the Washington Protests of last week-end were the Groups bringing up the race issue in a very disturbing fashion. The unfortunate fact is that many of these organizations tie themselves to the Republican Party. Those of use whom are moderate and Independent Voters FLEE from those sorts of gatherings. Carter is just stating what would appear obvious to those who watch this stuff on the media.

    September 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. dave

    Mr. Carter is absolutely correct. Mr. Steele is a buffoon.

    September 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. The Voice

    There, he said, and I agree. Obama was disrespected in his speech by a plathera of Republicans. Had he been white, this would have not happened.

    Even during Bush's disasterous years the Democrats showed respect during his belligerent speeches. America doesn't want to talk about these things that make them un-comfortable.

    Carter is right, this is deeper and disappoints me because I never thought white, male, conservative politicians would be so overt.

    September 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Larry

    Carter is absolutely correct, and the Republicans know it

    Steele was put in place a a token, and the Republicans know that as well

    The current GOP is the most obvious of Hypocritical organizations this country has ever seen

    A disgusting bunch to say the least

    Period ...

    September 16, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. special kay

    If that is the case Mr. Steele, then maybe you should condemn the people of your own party, who are actually invoking racial overtones into the debate. Prime examples are comparing our President to Hitler, referring to his plans as socialism, communism, etc. It just amazes me. Again, it's ok to disagree with his policies without invoking the nonsense displayed in the so called tea parties/town halls.

    September 16, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Unknown

    Carter called it for what it is. Where were these "tea partiers" when Bush was running the country in the ground. As for Steele, he is just a lost soul.

    September 16, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. GC

    I agree with Mr. Carter. I believe I white pres would not be disrespected in the way Obama is.

    September 16, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Harley

    Carter Is PLAYING the RACE CARD if the people disagree with Obama it's because he is black !!!! That is not FAIR it is he's POLICIES he is a SOCIALIST he is having Gov. run EVERYTHING !!! What happened to helping people who want to help themselves , and lower TAXES ? The Dem's want to Spilt the country and they are doing what ever they CAN. to make this country like EUROPE .

    September 16, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Jimmy

    CNN – Is this the best you can do for NEWS, the washed up Worst President ever making some idiotic statement? Nobody cares what Mr. Peanut Farmer has to say about anything, Carter is so irrelevant.

    September 16, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. DC Commentator

    I believe Steele is trying to distract attention from the real issue. If you listen to Preseident Carter's comments there is merit. No one is saying you cannot disagree but what is being said is that when an elected official shows flaggrent disrespect for the sitting President of this country it creates a forum for those who do harbor racially based ill feelings towards Mr Obama. Is this the country of the 1960's? The answer is no. But anyone who feels racism is never and issue; I say open your eyes and see the truth.

    Disagree if you believe in what you are saying but be respectful at all times.

    September 16, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. Jamie-Norman, OK

    I agree with President Carter's assessment. Do we not remember how we felt when President Bush had shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter? Whether you agreed with President Bush or not, I think collectively we felt it was an affront to our leader. I strongly believe that had we elected a white man for President rather than a black man–no Congressman would have felt that he or she could holler out "you lie" while the President was delivering his address. I believe that somewhere in Wilson's psyche, he thinks of President Obama as "boy".

    Joe Wilson's behavior was shameful.

    September 16, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. Aaron

    Now...I hoped that it wasn't true, but now it's clear to me that these American's so bitter against Obama are actually racist. Not just the ignorance that supports the party but the leaders themselves. Michael Steele can talk all he wants about it but the truth is that he was nominated BECAUSE the party is racist. I've met enough Republicans to know that there is a deep seated, hidden racial hatred in their hearts. Many of them live lives where you wouldn't think that it's true. Friendly with black co workers. Doing charity for poor black communities. But behind closed doors and amongst "friends" they show they're real side. And they HATE, HATE, HATE the fact that they have a black president. Everyday I read the news, I feel more and more ashamed of my country's past and present. Stop the hate.

    September 16, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Gary

    Mr. Carter is simply telling it like it is: the RNC is a bunch of hippocrites.

    September 16, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Kitchen Police

    If President Carter is playing the "race card" then why will the Republican Party not condemn the racist posters and references made by the right. The Republicans need their votes so they remain mute. And by the way, how many jobs have the Republicans created or healthcare problems solved?

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. hal9000

    Bush was made up in caricature to look like a chimp or hitler. He was called a war criminal and murderer. He was insulted all the time, and no one said "racism!"

    But heaven forbid anyone challenge Obama's policies or make caricatures of him! That's racist!

    Just agree with Obama, nod along with him when he speaks, and you'll be politically correct and not a racist.

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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