September 16th, 2009
06:44 PM ET
12 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. Nija

    I wonder who is using you.

    September 16, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. will

    I don’t think there will ever be a large number of African Americans that would become a Republican simply because the Republican philosophy is set against the progress of America; hint the Democrats are the progressive party. Therefore, African Americans feel their concerns will never and have never been dealt with seriously by the Republicans of today. On the other hand, Michael Steele is a Republican and he is the chairmen of the Republican Party, so he must appease those who are in his party to his utmost best. Lastly, Racism, and bigotry is still a part of the American society and it is a big enough problem to the point where a former President (Jimmy Carter) had to speak out about it and CNN had to take up an enormous amount of time to try to get to the true facts of it all.

    September 16, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. James Warner

    It would appear that Mr. Steele has republican colored glasses that sees just what they want objectivety be dammed and the truth with it. The attitude and hate expressed at town halls is far more than health care issues being debated ,especially when the claims of death panels ect are already with us by the private insurane co. where the termenology is denial of benefits is the phrase. this afternoon a friend told me that she may not get a knee replacement now after the removal of the previous replacement a year ago because of MURSA infection at the time of that replacement in the hospital . The congress is thying to assemble a bill and i have not seen anything complet from the house so why all the emotion directed at The President. It wood appear the being African American has more to do with it along with some southern congress rep stating they wanted to stop the president now and forever. what more will they do?

    September 16, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. R in Maine

    Are we supposed to believe that the GOP is not racist just because the house darkie says so? Don't you realize that they do not respect you?

    September 16, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  5. The Real Issue

    Michael Steele needs to get a handle on his extremist Right Wingers who are fanning the flames of being called alleged racists. True there are those who are against the Health Care Policies presented. That's all right, but the fire gets going by some indirect talk, some actions and some signs. Mr. Steele, step up and be a leader and coordinate your opposition in an appropriate manner. The more the opposition continues in an inappropriate manner, the more attention it gets and the more mainstream America will dismiss what the Republicans are talking about which was already done by electing Democratic President Barack Obama.

    September 16, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. darrell harris

    Jimmy Carter is known for his failed presidency.This comment on raceism is only for purpose of attention for which he must be starving.Legacy is the ultimate for all presidents.This is just one of many disgusting statements former president Carter has made over years past. Out of respect for the office of president of this great nation I will not refer to him as a kook.

    September 16, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. Biased

    I am getting ticked off with any dissent being called racism. Are there still racists out there – of course! Are some people acting out carrying certain signs racists – probably. Is everyone out there who doesn't agree going to be branded a racist – better not! Let me also seek clarification from anyone here – weren't the signs people were carrying labeled with "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy" ???? Different than saying bury Obama by a long shot. And also if Carter is so upset with Obama being portrayed as Hitler, let him google Hitler and Bush and see how many million images and articles show up where Bush was compared to Hitler constantly.

    September 16, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. centerleft

    Micheal Steele is a victim of racsim. The Republicans don't trust Micheal Steele with their check book. Steele is viewed as not an equal, just hired help.

    September 16, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. Pam

    I am so utterly embarrassed by Michael Steele! He has to be using politics for this to come out of his forked tongue. As much racism this country has and is experiencing, he commited treason with his stupid as ever remarks. A reincarnate of Old Uncle Tom! Tom had a reason to be a was called surviving the evils of slavery. Michael Steele, it is now 2009, you don't have to lie about who you are and your beliefs. People of all color would respect you more!

    September 16, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  10. LINDA

    what a tool

    September 16, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  11. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    Why does evervybody play the race card...even Jimmy "hillbilly" Carter. There is plenty of video, speech trascripts, and biography's that site the administrations czars, appointees, and advisors as being racists towards whites, but of course thats not real racism, and I should quit whining.

    September 16, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. joe m

    pres. obama should be the african american leader taking the lead in pushing back against these charges. by remaining quiet he inadvertantly provides amunition to his critics who would argue that he is allowing these charges to be made to silence voices of dissent against his policies.

    September 16, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. Dennis

    I guess I'm a racist because I totally oppose most of Obama's policies. On the other hand, I would have loved to see Colin Powell be president. Colin Powell has the experience, accomplishment and leadership we desperately need, and which is very lacking in current occupant.

    September 16, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  14. Mark

    I like how you take 4 words of jimmy carters quote and the whole quote from micheal steele. Wow you guys are so cowardly. You will do literally anything to make a point.

    September 16, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  15. Sheila C. Clarke

    Michael Steele, obviously do not listen to Fox news or so the
    Nazi signs, Witch doctor posters, joker posters and signs that
    read assassinate President Obama.
    The worst racist event occurred when President Obama wanted
    to speak to the students on the first day of school.
    I know that Michael Steele is caucasian but he should realize that
    these signs are racist.

    September 16, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  16. Dave

    So the token speaks...there is a reason that the black people in this country most identify with the Democratic a WASP from the Midwest I have to say that I am embarrassed by the things that have been said to me simply because I am a white times I feel sorry for Mr. Steele because you can bet your bottom dollar that if the Republicans manage to regain a majority, he will be marginalized...

    The sad part is that, if Hillary had won the election, the resistance would have been the same, only framed different. The simple fact is that white males in this country can not handle the fact that someone that they have always viewed as inferior is telling them what to do...maybe we, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans need to frame these arguments in terms of inequality instead of white and black...

    September 16, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  17. Linda

    Mr. Steele is in denial big time. But of course what else could he say. The man is a Black republican. Can we say Uncle Tom?

    September 16, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  18. Proud American

    Now this is funny, the Republican Party put it's token up to counter Carter's comments. Steele and the rest of his party are a joke.

    September 16, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. south american observer

    as an international viewer who has always been a keen observer of american politics i definitely think something is wrong,mr clown steele should be ashamed to say that there is know racism involved,then why the evil birthers are questioning the POTUS nationality,is it because he doesnt have white skin i had always admire america but now i just have to desmise of u republicans r damaging your country cnn plz post

    September 16, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  20. George - NY

    (I'm not proud to say) I have older family members who didn't vote for Obama BECAUSE HE IS BLACK.
    I'm sure that there are a great number of Americans who have evolved, but not everyone has.
    If it's not about race, why dress the president as a witch doctor or the Joker in black face?
    There is a small but GROWING white supremest movement in America that has picked up steam because our president is of a mixed race heritage (BLACK).
    So TRY, if you must to put a different face on it, but KNOW that there are people in America who use race as one of the measures of a man/woman.

    Things are getting better, and to a large degree, they are good, but the fear and loathing is still out there, and it DOES manifest itself in our politics.

    September 16, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  21. Stephanie

    Steele is stupid and he cannot see what is really happening with his party. Republicans are racists and hypocrites. Steele has to see the things those crazy people write about our president, things so racist and disrespectful that I just could not believe until I saw it.
    just because Steele is black and a republican that does not mean that republicans are not racists. Mr. Carter is right, the president deserves our respect and republicans should shut up...

    September 16, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  22. Kent in CA

    Well if it isn't the GOP token again. We havent't heard from Mr. Steele in some time, have we? Now that a former US President has called out the racists, the racists have called out their own to offer a rebuttal. Welcome back to the headlines Mr. Steele...
    Here's a question Mr. RNC Chairman. Have you read President Carters memoir An Hour Before Daylight? There might be a familiar ring to it...

    September 16, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  23. L. Song

    The level of vitriol and hatred coming from the republican side is unprecedented and they don't get to act all surprised and pretend they are not doing the spewing.

    That just is not honest.

    September 16, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. bimmer

    Come on Mr. Did Nothing President. Racism cannot be a one way street.

    Most whites voted for Obama, while only 1% black bvoted for McCain including Reublican Colin Powell. So why not call all blacks who voted for Obama racist?

    September 16, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  25. Derrick R. Daniel

    YOU ARE A LIER you just dont understan.

    September 16, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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