March 7th, 2010
07:06 PM ET
13 years ago

Republicans reject controversial images of Obama, Pelosi


A page from an RNC PowerPoint presentation that surfaced last week contained cartoonish images depicting President Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Top Republicans had harsh words Sunday for a leaked Republican National Committee document containing images skewering President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.

"There is no excuse for that type of stuff," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that he is "ashamed" of it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on ABC's "This Week," was asked whether such messaging is helpful. "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," he responded.

The PowerPoint presentation described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and claimed they could be enticed with "tchochkes." The document included a slide - titled "The Evil Empire" - with cartoonish images depicting Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

Since the presentation was leaked to Politico, Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it.

Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele described the document as a presentation that "a staffer" put together for "a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots.

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, is expected to come out with an ad this week highlighting the controversy and the images that many consider offensive. The commercial asks, "Today's Republican Party: Is fear all they have left?" The DNC says the ad should start running on cable television in Washington and a few other markets beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Steele condemned the document, but would not say if disciplinary action would be taken against the official who created it.

McConnell, when asked Sunday by ABC whether someone should be held accountable, responded, "I don't run the RNC. That's up to them. But I don't like it, and I don't know anybody who does."

Hatch, on NBC, said, "I don't want to condemn somebody but the fact of the matter is I'm ashamed of that."

When asked whether Steele should lose his post, Hatch responded, "I don't think Michael Steele knew about that. If he did, I would be very concerned. I like Michael Steele."

He added, " He made mistakes like everybody does, but he's a good face for our party. I think he's articulate, he's smart, he has a lot on the ball. He's going to get criticized no matter what he does but he was one of the first to come out and say that was irresponsible."

Steele, in an interview Thursday with Fox News, did not say who was responsible for the document, but said he asked RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart "to get to the bottom of it." Reports suggest Bickhart was the
staffer who made the fundraising presentation to GOP donors in Boca Grande, Florida, last month.

"Those are images that were pulled off the Internet, they've been out in the public domain for a while, and you know, a staffer was putting together a presentation for a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots," Steele said.

Doug Heye, the RNC communications director, told CNN on Thursday that there are no plans for either Bickhart or RNC Finance Chairman Peter Terpeluk to leave the committee as a result of the controversy.

-CNN's Peter Hamby, Mark Preston, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Extra • Mitch McConnell • Orrin Hatch • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Jin

    How much evidence does the country need to see that these people just don't get it. The right wing of the Republican party from Orange Man to the teabaggers have not only brought the GOP to its destruction, they are self-destructing daily. They have become pure parody in a broad sweeping implosion. Comedians for the next century will be able to milk this vein of self delusion and, unfortunately, Sarah Palin will get more than her 15 minutes in their comedy. For you teabaggers who don't understand: you have pooped in your own shoes!!

    March 7, 2010 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  2. Name here

    Yeah right, they know exactly what theyre doing. They cant officially release such garbage so they "accidently" do it and claim they denounce it.

    March 7, 2010 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  3. Keeth in California

    You can't run from it. It's written all over your faces.

    March 7, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. catmomtx

    WOW !!! I am shocked. It is about time Republican leaders stepped in and controlled the hate coming from their party. I can't help but wonder though did they apologize to their donors because it showed what they really think about them and they are afraid the money will dry up ?

    March 7, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. Victoria

    Hypocrites. It's unbecoming and shameful when someone within their own party does it (or more specifically, gets CAUGHT doing it). But they turn a blind eye or outright encourage this sort of ignorant rhetoric to be used within other anti-government movements, like the Tea Party.

    March 7, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  6. Minnesotan

    The Republicans have about a million other things to be ashamed of..... let's hope that this is just the start of them admitting all of their lies, mistakes, misdirections, delusions, failed policies and economic disasters.

    March 7, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. gwen

    How is this a surprise from the party that is too childish to put their differences aside and get to work for the american people. Instead they block and reject anything to help the people all while mocking the current govt. and sketching cartoons... seriously???

    March 7, 2010 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  8. Liberal4Obama

    Republicans are the biggest hypocrites ever, every Tea Party event they have ever attended has this very offensive and racist images of president Obama, even swastikas and other disgraceful images... who are they trying to fool? I mean seriously

    March 7, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  9. Jules Phoenix

    I really wish I could collectively nominate the GOP for "Hater Of The Year". This is just plain silly, but it's ALL I've seen coming from that camp since the 2008 election. People grasping at straws trying to ridicule our current president. Why? Are they that mad that Bush was such an easy target? This isn't the only incident, either. There's Palin's legion, Ann Coulter, and that chick who burned a backwards "b" onto her face during the election... come on, now. This is stupid and it really isn't the way to either protest or stay relevant.
    And if Obama's the Joker, who's Batman?

    March 7, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  10. John

    "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," McConnel responded.

    Except for...oh...say....those who pander to Republican base of neanderthals

    March 8, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  11. marty43

    finally the true face of the Republicans come to the surface ! How come the most vocal of the Republican party are as silent as they are ? Think .......

    March 8, 2010 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  12. quincy nashville

    well,Mr Steele, is that your final answer? You claim to have no idea who created the document but you somehow know that it was created for a group of 8 or 9 people just as a joke?

    March 8, 2010 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  13. jules sand-perkins

    Surely, after this response from leading Republicans, very liberal comments here will cease to embody words like Klan, thug, and con in their references to members of the Republican Party, especially since liberals are always reminding us of their altruistic, humanitarian–dare I say saintly?–concern for others' welfare and welfare checks.

    March 8, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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