September 16th, 2009
06:44 PM ET
13 years ago

Steele admonishes Democrats' charges of racism

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Michael Steele admonished Democratic critics Wednesday on CNN."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday sharply criticized a statement made by prominent Democrats - including Former President Jimmy Carter - that members of his party hold negative views of President Obama solely because he is black.

Steele accused Carter of being "dead wrong" and said he thinks the former Democratic president "was out of line."

"I think that he takes this to a point - to a level that is not reflective of what's been transpiring" in the current health care debate, Steele said. "When you go down this road and you start to just willy-nilly - as I believe President Carter has - throwing race out there, you diminish real instances of racism that needs to be addressed."

Carter on Tuesday said that he believes an inclination toward racism still exists in parts of the country and that it has "bubbled up to surface because of the belief by many white people not just in the south but around the country that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."

Carter made similar comments Wednesday night at a Town Hall in Atlanta, where he said that carrying signs equating Obama with Adolf Hitler and or urging that the president be buried with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy “are beyond the bounds” of how presidents have been treated in the past.

“And I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American,” Carter said. “ ... And my hope is, and my expectation is, that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of uprecendented attack on the president of the United States.”

Steele, interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” was flummoxed when asked about a remark Democratic Rep. Henry "Hank" Johnson made Tuesday which drew a parallel between South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie" outburst during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress last week and people "putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people."

"I think it's an ignorant statement," Steele said. "I'm sorry, just to me, it's beyond anyone's comprehension that you can make that leap."

While denouncing accusations of racism, Steele also suggested that Democratic members of Congress who represent constituents in poor neighborhoods are more racist than Wilson.

"You tell me where racism really exists," Steele said. "Is it in the words of a congressman who says 'you lie'? Or is it how we strip education funding through opportunity scholarships? Or is it how we cut money for our HBCU's [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] around the country? Or is it the fact that so many African Americans still live in neighborhoods that are burnt out and run down?"

Steele admitted that the Republcan party needs to take a new line to connect with black voters. "Our party has for over a generation employed a strategy that right now many of us wish we never had," he said.

Filed under: Jimmy Carter • Joe Wilson • Michael Steele
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. josephine miller

    wanting to take back our country, speaking, readying, writing in english, keeping in god we trust in our heritage, being taxed to death, inappropiate behavior of our government officials and the government telling us what we want, loss of jobs, and homes when the government bails out large companies that created their own problems and income tax reform are not black or white issues they affect all americans.

    September 16, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  2. TKW-New Mexico

    If this kind of behavior at these tea parties is not racist, my God what is racism. Are people that blind? This goes way beyond freedom of speech. I am ashamed of this kind of circus act. Some of these people don't even know why they are protesting. The just want to be opposers of anything Obama says. Some of their arguments don't make since. Just like them opposing Obama's speech to school children. The argument was, he's going to brainwash our children into socialism. Half of these people don't even know what socialize is!

    September 16, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  3. Lenny, Dallas TX

    There is an old saying Mr. Steele, "what goes round, comes round". Mainstream America wants politicians to solve America's problems (like health care, jobs etc) and not play politics of destruction. It is obvious the republicans will oppose every health care proposal as long as the democrats propose it.

    The Joe Wilsons of the republican party ensure that republican party remains the party with a small tent and with "small" ideas.

    Democrats never criticized Bush like this in his first year. Everyone gave him a chance to succeed but the republicans acted this way with Clinton in his first year and have now taken it to the gutter with Obama .

    If this is how the republican party hopes to regain control in 2010, I think this strategy will backfire badly. Most Americans aren't having tea parties. They are working hard (or diligently looking for work) and have no time for this nonsense.

    September 16, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  4. Independent

    Mr. Steele,
    I am not going to demean you and I don't think you need to be enlighten. However you are an insult to the intellect. How do you explain the following: Obama a terrorist, Obama a Muslim, Obama should not talk to "our" school children. "I want my country back" Obama is not a natural born citizen. Mr. Steel do explain; It it is just a few bad apples why haven't you and the likes of you denounced it. YOU rather denounce our former President than to denounce what appears to be the obvious......RACISM

    September 16, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  5. JM

    Steele is a "LIAR", Carter hit in right on the nose. He specifically stated a fringe element and not all.

    September 16, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  6. Larry

    Hey Steele

    Do you really think anyone in the Republican party really cares what you say or what you think

    I have never witnessed someone who so willingly allows himself to be played as a token as you currently are allowing yourself to be used

    Some day you are going to wake up and say to yourself ...


    Do you ever think about how hard it was for your ancestors

    And now you stand there helping to support the same racist attitudes that so many have died to remove

    I'll bet there are a lot of folks turning over in their graves right now

    It's a sad day for this country ... and your part of it ...!

    September 16, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  7. dem4obama

    There is so racism against Obama. Maybe some don't like his policies, but there sure were some that said loud and clear, before he even became the president that they didn't want a( ugly n word) to be our President. This idiot Steele needs to face reality, and quit lying to himself ! Out of all people, himself being african american you'd think he was a little smarter! This country still has alot of ignorance in front and behind closed doors.This guy needs to open his eyes. He's had them closed for too long!

    September 16, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  8. dave

    This is a typical democrat distraction ploy to try and change the subject of their plummenting in the polls.

    Obama's criticism has little to do with race and everything to do with FAR LEFT policy that most Americans do not want.

    Americans feel he is forcing policy, bad policy, down our throats. He fails to check the background on the people he appoints as czars, doesn't seem to know or check the details of the bills he is trying to rush through and when congress and americans finally get an opportunity to read it, and find out how flawed it is.

    September 16, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
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