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. Deuce

    He looks like he's waiting for Obama to give a Big Kiss...

    September 16, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Chris from NC

    Maybe he is playing the race card. However, while I volunteered for Obama's campaign last year in North Carolina, I heard many times that some people didn't want to vote for a (you know what) for President. He is right, there is still racial sentiment in this country even after the civil rights movement.

    September 16, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. KG, MN

    President Carter is calling out Republicans. If they don't like it perhaps they should change their views because President Carter is correct in his assertions.

    September 16, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. so, race is just as much a issue as gender as economic

    get over it Carter, if Obama can be president enough it wont matter

    I'm pulling for you Obama, I think we were bless to have you

    now get to work

    September 16, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Justin

    Republicans are sure hoping so. They've wanted hatred, violence and fear to become part of American way of life.....

    September 16, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. DLT

    Former President Jimmy Carter is right on the money–although many of us are in denial and don't want to admit it still exists. We live in Tennessee in an area that is extremely racist. Our son is subjected daily to comments about Obama, calling him everything from a "Jungle Monkey" to a "Black Antichrist." To his credit, he defends our President to his peers. We are Republicans, conservative Christians–we might not agree with all his policies, but as the leader of our country he deserves our respect and our prayers. It's in the Bible, people!! Think about it.

    September 16, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Independent Lady

    I see Steele is still trying to be relevant but no one in his party respects or even acknowledge him & no matter how many Republican talking points he can recite that is a fact and the only “race card” that was played is when he was voted to become their party leader but with his powers stripped.

    September 16, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Tim

    I am a black man, and I voted for Obama, and I do not agree with him on health care reform, so according to Jimmy Carter I am racist. What a bunch of bull! I am an intelligent man who can make my own choices based on facts not emotions. I can now see why Carter has been dubbed as one of the worst presidents in American history. The Tea Party's march on washington had over 30 black speakers who are all against Obama's health care reform. So are those black speakers racist against black people? It is sad to see minorities used by the Democratic politicians for their own personal gains.

    September 16, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. maximus

    What Ex-pres. J. Carter has said is the plain truth, nothing but the truth, so help him God. And let's add this, Racism does more harm to those practicing it than to those it is practiced against. It appears to be that in America, democraty is nothing but an illusion. The election of a black man as president of the U.S has stripped America naked and reveals America to the world as what it really is. And time will tell more.

    September 16, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. ConsiderThis-FL

    Former President Carter is simply stating the truth. Never before, from George Washington to George W. Bush has a sitting president been so disrespected as has President Obama. He has received more death threats than any other president. He has spoken at events where people were allowed to carry assult weapons within eyesight of him more than any other president. He has be ridiculed and criticized in public, and in spite of it, has taken the "high road" more than any other President. He has inherited the biggest mess left by a previous president in our history and has managed to bring our country back from the brink of emplosion quicker and more effectively than any other president (this is why he won the election, because the American people didn't think anyone else could do it!). He won the election fair and square, beat all odds, defeated all comers, including a "war hero" (McCain), a political sex symbol (Palin – created by McCain, the news media and herself, and a political machine that was thought to be undefeatable (Clinton). He has addressed, through his speeches, the most difficult and challenging issues of our time, better than any other person in the history of our country and for all of this he is meligned, criticized and disrespected like no other political figure. A moron could figure out that the only reason for the nearly out of control viciousness constantly being hurled toward him is the color of his skin. If this were not so, then George W. Bush and the "criminal on the loose" Chaney would have been tarred and feathered for the damage that they did to this country. Stop being cowards wearing the perverbial white sheet and have the cahunas to admit, "Yes, I have an issue with President Obama because he's a Black man." I long for the day when hate, racism and all those who promote it exist no more.

    September 16, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Chuck in California

    I am a white American and I agree wholeheartedly with former President Carter. I've heard the comments from the beginning of the last political season from others in my race. It is disgusting that this seems to be what the people in the country to sink to when they can't fathom that we have an exceptionally intellegent and compassionate leader because he is African-American.

    September 16, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Steve,Austin

    Someone really needs to tell Repupblican Steele to shut the heck up already. He's an embarrassment to the GOP....of course, who isn't these days! lol lol lol

    September 16, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Shelly

    The Republicans need a reality check.

    It is obvious from the McCain/Palin campaign rallies( Kill him), the Tea baggers, the hatred and disrespect shown towards a President ( who is trying to improve the lives of Millions of Americans) that there is a segment who holds a deep seated prejudices, that they sadly learned from their parents.

    Because of their limited education and ignorance they fear the changing world, instead of opening their minds and hearts to it.

    September 16, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Abby

    What a mess the Republican party has become. Sad.

    September 16, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Ancient Texan

    It's real apparent,; disagree with the Liberal Agenda and BINGO, you're a racist. Almost all the players of the race card on the blogs are the LEFT. The balance of the population knows that the possibility of being accused of racism is a strong tool of the Libs, so they take great care to avoid anything that could be construed as racist. But Use of the Alinsky tools of Radicalism are employed constantly by the Left.

    September 16, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Keeth in California

    Steele, the GOP powers that be selected you because of your race. With Obama in the White House, it's all about race to the GOP. You can't have a black man succeed where rich old white men have failed. It would tarnish the GOP for years to come.

    September 16, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Angie in PA

    Michael Steele aka as Republican token

    What are the Republicans offering?
    What are they doing about Jobs?
    What are they doing about Healthcare?

    You have Members of Congress and the Republican Party Lying,Fear Mongering,Catering to the Extreme Right fringe of the Party about death panels, President Obamas Birt Cert, Scaring the Elderly now your going after disabled Children. Starting up a tea party Aka as an Obama Hate Fest! and not ONE Of you have condemmed these things! quite frankily your adding fuel to the fire with your daily lies and rants. Now is not the time for your Partisan bickering President Obama has offered to work with you reached out his hand and all the while you continue to Stab him in the back with lies and Fear mongering SO SIR IF ANYONE IS DIVIDING THIS COUNTRY IT IS YOUR PARTY!

    September 16, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Hugo

    Jimmy Carter,
    A very nice man and I admire his honesty and integrity, he would not even shake Clinton's hand when in the same room but who would listen to Jimmy Carter, he was the worst President I can recall to date.

    I believe that Conservative America dislikes a black liberal just as much as they dislike a white, yellow or RED liberal, it has nothing to do with color, it is all about political views and watching a bunch of idiots waste our hard earned tax dollars! America is an Equal Opportunity Nation when it comes to hatred of the corrupted politics of Right or Left! Problem now is, there sure does seem to be a lot of corruption surrounding our Commander in Chief!

    September 16, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. tcheak

    For once the GOP is correct. Carter`s comments are just a ploy bad one horrendous ex-pres to defend the losy policies of a horrrendous president. now if the GOP would only get a program of their own, Obama could be stopped!

    September 16, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. republican

    Anybody who has been in a position to deal with white male rage at having to share authority KNOWS that Pres. Carter is correct. Not just that Obama is black, but that he is more COMPETENT than his white, Southern predecessor really roils the pot .Americans need to get this out of the political dialogue NOW and move on to the other major problems that we face. The Teabaggers are a side-show to the Big Show. Sorry, but true.

    September 16, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. David

    Jimmy Carter is absolutely correct. There are many in this country who are still unwilling to accept an African-American in any kind of leadership position let alone being the POTUS.

    How many times have we seen "He'll never be my President"?
    How many previous Presidents have had their citizenship challenged?
    How many times have we had people claiming President Obama is muslim? This kind of thing has never happened with any other modern President.
    How many times have we had people calling for impeachment even before the POTUS is sworn into office?

    None of these ridiculous behaviors has anything to do with policy. The GOP doesn't want to admit there is still a problem with racism in this country because it's those very people who fire up their shrinking base.

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  22. Reggie

    Steele said such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to "disparage all who disagree with them."

    Sort of like when Republicans called anyone who didn't agree with the war un-American?

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Jim Crow

    Jimmy Carter has a stellar record on civil rights and, while not one of our better Presidents, may be the best former President we've had. "Habitat for Humanity" and so much more. The Republicans are experts at pulling the "race" card. Carter hit "the nail on the head", like it or not.

    Just wait until those Latinos in a number of states like Texas start banding together and sending more Democrats to Congress. Even this old "white guy" is sick of Country Club First".

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Neville

    I am neither black nor white but I can see clear racist comments coming from some of the GOP followers. The sad fact is that I do not hear any comments from the leaders of the GOP ridiculing those members responsible for those racist comments. Maybe silence is consent!

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. Bertina

    Too funny. According to Republicans, the only ones not racist are white people who are conservative.

    September 16, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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