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)

    It's HIGH time that AMERICAN CITIZEN'S (and the MEDIA's) STOP attaching a nationality to – American. I don't go around calling myself – Irish American, Italian American, Polish American, Greek American, Isralie American, Chinese American or Swedish American. I Am an AMERICAN. PERIOD.
    If BLACKS have a problem with BLACK, AFRICAN, NEGRO, COLORED or any other word they want to describe themselves, well say thats just too bad for them. They are after all, African or Nigerian or South African or what ever just like the rest of us are originally something else.
    I say it's high time they started being American's. When I travel I don't say I'm "something-American" I'm just American. They should be the same – AMERICAN. The skin color is obvious ! It's shouldn't matter. Most times it doesn't to anyone – untill they get "snitty" about it. That's their problem. They should get over it – SOON.

    September 16, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. Paul from Phoenix

    I voted for Obama. I am now angry with Obama. I am not upset because I am racist. I am upset because I feel he lied about governing as a centrist, not raising the deficit, and not passing pork-filled budgets.

    Dems are race-baiting like no tomorrow. If anyone says anything badly about Obama, it is automatically racism. This is crap. Are people not allowed to be upset or question this President?

    Harry Reid called President Bush a "loser." Was this as bad as what Wilson did? Yes, but he didn't get censured by the Congress.

    I am tired of everyone automatically playing the race card when someone questions Obama. THis country elected a black president. Get over it. Racism isn't dead, but it never will die.

    ANd it goes both ways. How about this, why hasn't anyone called Kanye West a racist? He has now gone after 2 different white musicians for awards.

    The race card is old and tired. And Carter should be ashamed of himself.

    September 16, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. CJA/Independent voter

    Carter isn't wrong...he nailed it. Certainly there are those Republicans who are against Obama's policies. Certainly there are those citizens who are worried about any change in their health care. The extreme reactions of the right, however, are not based upon policy or fear of change. Bringing guns to townhall meetings, displaying Obama as the Joker or Hilter, ministers wishing him dead and preaching that message to their congregations......those actions are based upon deeper-seated feelings. The health care debate is merely a socially acceptable vehicle for those who are prejudice to display their racism. What a shame. Once again the Republicans are displaying their true colors and embarrassing the rest of us.

    September 16, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. can't wait for 2012

    Hey Obama, Jimmy Carter called and wants his approval rating back.

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. DAVE

    i think good ole jimmy's noodle is a little too soft for making assertions about racism.... POTUS is not just black..... his mother was white if all have forgotten..... it is crazy that everyone concentrates on just his black side... i personally don't like him whether he was white, black, green, or purple....... his policies are under attack and the shell game continues with the sneaky cap and trade bill that has already passed the House. information from the treasury shows that the govt. will recieve taxes yearly in the amount of 100-200 BILLION yearly from companies..... bad part is that those monies will be from consumers..... welcome to "CAP AND TAX" we should all hope that moths clean out our wallets before Obama does

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Jim M. Roane, Ph.D.

    I can not speak for Joe Wilson or former Jimmy Carter; however, I wonder what excuse liberal democrats give for the caricatures of former George W. Bush as Ben Laden or Hitler? And, believe me there were many. As far as I am concerned race has nothing to do with it. And for CNN and the liberal media and the Carter types to hype this story line is, as far as I am concerned, irresponsible and inflammatory. Opposition to this bill has nothing to do with race or our president's skin color. I, for one, do not think the President lied. Can a few illegal aliens slip through the cracks? Sure. But, that does not make him a lair; that simply makes the illegal aliens illegal once again!

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Linda from Minnesota

    The Republicans can say what they want. Jimmy Carter is 100% right on this. No President has ever been disrespected like President Obama. These people screaming about wanting their country back never said one word while President Bush spent billions on an unjust war.

    I, for one am tired of people saying President Obama is 1) a Muslim (if he were, so what?) 2) a socialist 3) trying to take over this country.

    What President Obama is doing is try to bring this country back from the brink. If these tea-party protesters don't like it, too bad. This country is not changing – it has already changed. Get on board or be left behind.

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Bic

    Unfortunately, former President Carter is correct. I personally know too many people who are racists and who can find an issue with virtually anything the Obama administration tries to do. Thanks to Mr. Carter for helping to get this out in the open.

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Richard

    So if Obama is killed by a Republican loon. Will Steele insist it was becuase of policy? I'm sure He/they would. It is so sad that they believe it is policy. Was Hillary care called Nazi work? Was she called Hitler? Were people buying guns and amo like we were heading to war. NO!! Wake up America. The racists are loud and clear.

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Of course the Republicans would see President Carters statement as derisive and untrue. They don't like being called out for their actions. The former president is absolutely correct. The Republican party has not only become the party of NO, but a party with a very ugly undertone of racism. Noone criticized Bush this way and protrayed him as the devil or Hitler. He was a white Republicans, and could do no wrong in the eyes of his party!

    September 16, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. MsAnnette, Little Rock

    President Carter is absolutely right about what he said. I too live in the south and anyone who chooses to believe otherwise is just sticking their heads in the sand. It seems that some people just can't accept that Barak Obama is the president and their hatred is consuming them...they are coming out of the woodworks and can no longer hide it. It's time people stop decieving themselves and admit to what is as plain as the nose on their faces..many people are flat out racist, bigots, and long to feel superior. No one is playing the 'race card', they are stating the facts. Own up it and deal with it.
    Fed up in Arkansas

    September 16, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Tony

    Are we not allowed to disagree with anyone who isn't a White Male? If that is the case, just let me know now...

    September 16, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Bob

    Why can't Steele see he is being used as a prop by these racists? Does he just not care or what?

    September 16, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Warren

    Carter was marginal at best as a president, and has become counterproductive through his ill-advised and poorly thought out attempts at "statesmanship" as an ex-president, and his equally ineffective efforts to enhance his almost non-existent legacy. If he cannot be positive and constructive at this point in his life then...especially given his own poor 'track record'...then he should be gracious enough to say and do nothing at all.

    September 16, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen John Ensign (R-NV)

    Racism is definitely the only reasonable explanation for why many in this sheepish mob hate President Obama so much.

    Of course, it's not only racism. They ALL – even those who are not motivated by racism – are being conditioned by the repetition of twisted fallacies and baseless lies – and Barak Obama is being thoroughly demonized and dehumanized by those who are doing the conditioning – to such a degree that all any of them can see is the devil, evil, whether he's black or white.

    For example, the twisted manipulators who are feeding this sheepish mob all the nonsense they spout now were making excellent use of tools other than racism in fomenting so much hate for Hilary Clinton in the 1990s.

    September 16, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Debby

    Whats sad is so many Dems. called Bush a Nazi to and it never got this much attention. They even had cartoon charatures of Bush in the newspapers all the time and not much was made out of this. Obama is not African American. His heritage is from white and black backrounds so for Carter to play the race card is so ridiculous.

    If Hillary were President and was proposing this health care bill there would be signs by the tea party saing "Iron My Shirts" or probably be making other gender remarks. It goes along with the territory of agreeing or disagreeing and doesn't have anything to do with Obama's color.

    September 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Dan

    The fact that Barack Obama is the sitting President is proof that the
    Majority of Americans have gotten past race and that the elder racist
    faction of our country is slowly dying or has died off. But their spawns
    who carry on their poison unfortunately exist, although in smaller numbers both hidden and overt as in some of the "tea party" klans'
    evil signs suggested.

    Americans at large should not let this faction of the ignorant populace
    be our mouthpiece for what is right and moral in this country. As long
    as they don't do someting "stupid" to harm the President, in which
    I have faith in the secret services ability to go against any kook, the
    sane Americans should act as if we are the majority, and don't give
    them credit for undermining the President.

    (One of the healthcare provisions of the healthcare reform bill should
    be to declare racism a mental illness).

    September 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Doug

    Though there are still signs of racism in politcs and in America, this incident is not one of them. The call of racism has become the token defense in the political areana these days when the proof simply isn't there. A disagreement with the president, an outburst against him defines a racist? Simply because we have an african american president? I know one thing. If the same comment in the same context had been made by Wilson to former President George Bush, we would not even be having this conversation.

    September 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. Laurie

    Pres. Carter is correct. The Republicans are beating their thinly veiled bigot drums in an effort to discredit and delegitimize President Obama. It is racism, ignorance and outdated mindsets that is fueling and driving this current of hate. Joe Wilson's outburst was cored in racism. He's a racist. The Republicans have proved time and times again their racist core values and that they cannot stand to have an African-American President presiding before them. It is shameful, disgusting and backward behavior–and they are encouraging it with their constituents. I cannot believe the things I am seeing in these demonstrations–it is so awful and disturbing I feel like I'm watching newsreels from 40 years ago. WE ALL need to stand up and admonish this behavoir–it is simply unacceptable toward not only our president, but any African-American. Shame on us if we don't combat it immediately and call them out for what they are.

    September 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Eleanor

    Carter has no need to "play the race card". What a ridiculous ascertion! Clearly there is racism at the very heart of all the malicious, hateful, derogatory things these people are saying about our President. It is shameful! A national disgrace. Mr. Obama was elected by a vast majority of Americans, of all races. It is too late now for these malcontents to change that. This is the way American democracy works. To do and say the things they are, is flatly UN-American. They may well be dismayed at the changes they don't like...but at the very heart of their dislike is their dislike for a man of color in the highest seat in the land! I couldn't be more ashamed of my fellow citizens.

    September 16, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. POEMAN

    Anyone who disagrees with President Carter has obviously been living under a rock. Every time we see one of these "tes bag" events you see folks with signs depicting the president as Hitler, a monkey or the Joker. I'm not suprised in the least little bit. You had to know that there were still thousands of people with deep seeded racism running through their blood.

    I have no issues with people opposing the president based on legislative decisions but many of these attacks are personal and have nothing to do with policy. The sad thing is that many of the Republican talking heads are actually feeding the frenzy! To this day there are still Replican representatives the don't believe Obama is a US citizen. Until a credible source (good luck) in the Republican party steps up and speaks out agaist such behavor it will continue if not escalate.

    September 16, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. AJ

    For once I agree with a republican. I am a lifelong democrat who finds many reasons for animosity toward president Obama, noneof which has to do with race. Carter is a loose cannon and needs to muzzled.

    September 16, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. williefloyd

    I am a white, 64 yr. old native of SC. I have lived my entire life surrounded by racism. As with many other things in our lives, it is difficult to understand certain things unless you've actually experienced them on a daily basis. Thankfully I was not reared by my parents to be prejudiced. I am not a left wing extremist, in fact I supported and voted for John McCain in 2000. I and my late husband worked all our adult lives and have never asked the government for anything. I supported, and still do, Pres. Obama. I may not agree with him on everything, but he is my president and I would never consider insulting or disrespecting him. I am not sure I can agree with former president Carter as to the extent that racism has affected some of what we have seen recently. But believe me, to some extent it does exist. I am daily humiliated by things said across our country that leads my fellow citizens to believe that all white South Carolinians feel and behave in the same manner as our gov. and other elected officials. It is far from the truth. Personally, I am glad we lost the Civil War-slavery has no place in any society.
    I hope that those opposed to my views do not take offense at what I say-you have every right to express your views-but a small amount of civility would be appreciated.

    CNN probably won't post this, but I feel better just having typed it.

    September 16, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Howard

    I'm white, and I say that anyone who seriously thinks race isn't part of the dynamic in the health care debate is in denial. The fact is, in 1993 and 1994, Republicans attacked the proposal, but not the Clintons. This year the attacks have all been framed in the context of criticizing the President. Repubs labeled health insurance legislation entirely constructed by House and Senate members as "Obama-care." What's THAT all about? The same hooligans trying to shout down health care reform are also denying the legitimacy of the Obama Presidency on the imagined grounds that he wasn't really born in the United States.

    At least the Republicans ought to have the guts to own up to their bigotry if that's how they really feel.

    September 16, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Sam

    Not all is about Race with this guy. His policy is a big factor. he is spending and spending then out campaining to spend more. people are just getting fed up with it. it just happens to be he is black. was it race when everyone was against Bush. No it was policy. was it race for Carter, Clinton, Nixon, reagan, kennedy.Ect No when people opposed there views it was Policy. this president should not even been elected if it was because of race. over 70 percent at first where in favor of him not that they have seen his policy and how he really works and the percentage of popularity has gone done to 50 percent it is now because of race. thats just nuts. best find another excuse.

    September 16, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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