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. Kansan

    I happen to agree with Carter...all this anger I see in these people's eyes at Tea Party Rallies & Town Halls is the same anger I saw during the civil rights movement....and the majority of these old people screaming were probably the same people screaming 40 years ago...I'd bet if you look up their pasts you'd see that I'm right...when you see old gals & guys at these events talking about how the Muslims are taking over, what do you think they're really thinking? Insert "Blacks" in place of "Muslims" and I think you'll have your answer. No other president has had this much or this kind of hatred from people.

    September 16, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Ekow

    Of course it it racism....Period.
    They only chose Michael Steele as the RNC leader because a black man had won the presidency in order to hide behind him and say Oh we have a black man as our chairman..........How many of the Republicans actually refer to Michael Steele as the RNC chairman? I just thank God we got a bold person like Jimmy Carter to finally say to America. The whole world is watching America.

    September 16, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Jayden,FL

    Carter is not playing the race card! the Republicans are.. just look at the tea party

    September 16, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Proud Member..Party of No

    First off Jimmy Carter is a complete imbecile and everybody knows it. Secondly, these constant charges of "racist" used by the democrats have completely lost all meaning. It is so commonly thrown around anymore that people don't even flinch.

    September 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Farrell in Houston

    Carter is right and if he weren't it's pathetic that Michael Steele would say otherwise. There is no way Michael Steele of all people can erase past and present history of this country, the map of Africa is all over his face whether he accepts it or not.

    September 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Anonymous

    republican yokals have made all republicans look bad! glen beck and hannity and most of FOX cable have fueled this fire and beck godes it on each and everyday with more rants. glen beck is the cancer working against our country to succeed.until all america can except our president's skin color and move forward we will continue to see and hear such disgraceful comments and actions.
    president obama has shown such glass and dignity with all this racial nastyness and will overcome this hatred from the small percent that this group represents. the majority that voted our president into office will always support him and think he is doing an outstanding job under these ugly circumstances.

    September 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. Greg in MO

    Racial politics plays a much larger in role in support of the President. I am comforted when I see an increasingly large number of African-Americans coming forward in opposition to the President's liberal agenda which ultimately hurts every American of any race. Thankfully, with this President's many failures and wildly liberal agenda, this country is finally moving beyond racial politics. In this way, Obama's election to office is a blessing to all Americans.

    September 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Radium

    Thank you Mr. President, for stating the obvious. Of course it is all about race. People dening that he is a citizen, to calling him and comparing him to the most evil man in the world (Hilter). Even the carrying guns to his events. How we EVER done that to any other president?????? NOT!! I'm sorry he has only been a president for 9 months. And my taxes have not gone up. Stem cell research is now been approved for studies to cure many illnesses. So no I dont think he has plans to kill Grandma.
    Someone (with a brain) please tell me what this man has done to be compared to HILTER.

    After what we had from the last 8 years, he is what we need!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. james

    Carter is silly!

    September 16, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Calipublican

    So if you disagree with President Obama, you're a racist?
    Talk about one sided, nobody else matters political party...

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

    Yes, he probably did play the race card – unfortunately. And I disagree with him using it. But I found it downright appalling that the republicans will accuse Carter of using the race card, but they won't DEFEND Obama against the racist views coming from MANY (not all, but many) at those rallies. They NEVER denounce the racist tactics by the small right wing base. Therefore, I'm not feeling an ounce of sympathy. As far as I'm concerned, if Wilson allows racist views by not speaking out against racism, then he is promoting racism.

    September 16, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. tidho

    Steele is exactly right.

    Certainly race plays a role for some in their opposition of Obama, the idea that race is the majority of the reason people oppose his progressive agenda is absurd. People oppose it because its bad policy.

    September 16, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Republican NEVER AGIN

    The Republicans being held to any standard and it being reported is playing the "political card, partisan poltics "

    for example IF
    A white male republican can be caught doing sexual act in the mens bathroom with other men and it being reported will be called "partisan politics by repubican

    opps bad example that realy did happen

    for example IF

    A white male republican was using tax payer money to have an affair in another country and it being reported would be called partisan politics

    dang it that happed to

    for example IF

    a white male republican who ORDERED to toture human beings in defiance to the US consitution and it was reported it would be partisan politics

    OMG that happened to LOL

    Well at least republicans are good with the economy

    OPPS well if you ignore the years republicans were in control of the government the economy was good

    Hey tring to say one positive thing about republicans it realy hard to find something good to say LOL

    These nasty republicans are of the same tree WW2 germany grew off of.

    So if the media reports the facts the republicans call it "liberal media" LOL if the news media LIE in favor of the republicans it called fair and balanced IE fox news network

    September 16, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. Leslie, NH

    I admire President Carter. No other president has spoken out against the hatred and vile protest in the streets. No one said anything about the picture portraying President Obama as a witch doctor.

    President Carter had the guts to say SOME of the protesters are protesting based on the president's race. It's a fact, grow up.

    Kudos to brave Americans who speak the truth.

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

    I was not a big fan of Carter when he was Prez but since he has been in public life I like what he stands for. FINALLY, SOMEONE MAJOR IN THE POLITICAL ARENA SAYS THE TRUTH, WISH OTHERS WOULD COME FORWARD and say what Carter is saying, if this is not RACIAL I don't know what is. YES THE CURRENT POTUS won but in no way did the election of the first black as POTUS has eliminated RACISM IN THIS COUNTRY. I fear for him and his family. FOR THE SENATE TO WASTE TIME YESTERDAY JUST TO SLAP WILSON ON THE HAND is a joke, he should have faced time off without pay, better yet yank his GOVT RUN HEALTHCARE AWAY after all this is what WILSON'S DISRESPECT TOWARD THE PREZ WAS ALL ABOUT.

    September 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Steele Indoctrination

    "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 knows that republicans put him in as chairman so they can make outrageous comments and have steele come out and defend them. You think they are stupid, steele is a puppet RNC chairman. He has no real power (think about how they treated him in the beginning), remember michael the party was trying to strip your leadership rights (and succeeded).

    Carter was off a little bit but the gist of his comments are true. Since the primaries there have been racial undertones but Obama didn't want to address it because that would of doomed his chances at winning. Now, that he's elected it's fair game for these groups to be out in the open. Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh is pushing these groups in that direction. The MSM is helping by catering to folks like Williams "tea Party Express" giving them prime coverage asking them to join debates about serious issues but when you go to these groups websites you see postings of vile/disgusting comments about Obama.

    People like myself would like to have a one to one discussion about healthcare with people who care about the issues not the talking points from political groups or hateful people with secret agendas.

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

    CNN, why are you reporting on this? One of the worst presidents in our history is now also trying to divide our country by playing the race card. Our president is both black and white and do you think he really likes hearing this crap from our former leaders?
    Please report on some real stories like the ACORN scandal that is blowing up. CNN you are the one that is racist here by only showing one side of the story.

    September 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. Samuel

    Of course he is. Americans of Indian origin are the richest ethnic group in America-yes they are richer than whites. African Americans and other minorities have no reason to whine about racism.

    September 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. MCD, SF, CA

    So, are the critics saying that racism does NOT exist? Of course it does... we all know that.... polls have shown that. Many of President Obama's opposition are either racist or they are using racism as an means to an end.... either way, it is racism.

    September 16, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Over it

    Not true! President Carter knows racism when he sees and smells it. Eric Holder told this country "Race Relations" is still an issue in this country, and in my opinion always will be – or least until all of the racists die off.

    There are a lot of folks in the country (which is a melting pot) who just can't get with a "Black" man in the oval office. God help us all.

    September 16, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. gary

    two losers- carter and obama. lol HA!

    September 16, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. Dennis

    O yeah this is about race folks

    September 16, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Rosie, Crestiview, FL

    I agree with President Carter. Some of the signs the tea baggers were cayying were very racist in context. Not all the tea baggers are racist, but there is an underlying message with the tea baggers that goes to the heart of President Obama being an AA. When the deficit was out of control when President Bush was in office you did not see the tea baggers come out.

    September 16, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Joe Smoe

    I have the same feeling Mr Carter has, like I have said in the past President Obama is half white and half black, if he were 3-5 shades lighter we would not be having these conversations nor these childish outlandish tea parties and othe atrocities like Mr.Wilson did, he is our president you respect him whether you think he is right or not.
    No I am not black.
    Never seen such whiny babies in my lifetime and I am no young snot

    September 16, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Caesar the Great

    Isnt there a place where we can send ALL former presidents to so they dont come out and make stupid statements anymore.

    September 16, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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