Carter: Gingrich's 'subtle words' have racist appeal
January 18th, 2012
03:21 PM ET
8 years ago

Carter: Gingrich's 'subtle words' have racist appeal

(CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday charged Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich with crafting his campaign message in a way that speaks to prejudice.

"I wouldn't say he's racist, but he knows the subtle words to use to appeal to a racist group," the former Democratic president said in an interview set to air on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Southern Republican Presidential Debate hosted by John King and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the South Carolina primary, go to or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.

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Gingrich has taken heat this election cycle from African American groups over making comments perceived by some as racially insensitive.

Carter pointed to the former House speaker's argument that children, particularly in urban areas, could learn a strong work ethic by working janitorial jobs in their schools.

And at a campaign stop in New Hampshire this month, Gingrich said he was prepared to go to the NAACP convention and talk about "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

Civil rights groups, including the NAACP, responded to Gingrich's remarks, calling them "divisive" and "problematic on several fronts."

On Wednesday, Carter said Gingrich's experience as a former congressman from Georgia prepared him to use rhetoric that would be more popular in the South, including within certain constituencies in South Carolina, a state that holds its presidential primary on Saturday.

Carter said Gingrich uses terms about welfare "that have been appealing in the past, in those days when we cherished segregation of the races."

"So he's appealing for that in South Carolina, and I don't think it'll pay off in the long run," Carter added.

Gingrich's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The full interview will air Wednesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" at 9 p.m. ET.

Also see:

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Obama campaign makes first moves toward major ad buys

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Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Jimmy Carter • Newt Gingrich • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. grrace

    Newt actually thinks he's smart. He's a legend in his own mind.

    January 18, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    Newt wants to put adults out of work (and on food stamps and welfare) so that he can hire cheap child labor.

    You folks with kids and grandkids had better be very careful who you vote for.

    January 18, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. RLA

    Racist– this country is so far ahead of most of the world it is astounding. We can do better but te fools who continue to act like it is still 1940 in the south for their own political agenda need to wake up!

    January 18, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. tumbleweed

    All of you #rackers, southern and non southern, who say you're not racist are pretty funny, even cartoonish. Obama is the best President we've had in your lousy life time. That's you winghunter and vhawley. I'm sure your little sister is on foodstamps and living in a trailer with her strung out boyfriend, the meth dealer....come on, admit it. They don't use their foodstamps that they get. they sell them for chemicals to make meth..they don't eat because their 2 teeth are too loose.

    January 18, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Mike from Calgary

    Obama was attacking Gingrich today. Jimmy Carter is now attacking Gingrich, The Democrats do not want to face a Republican Tour de Force like Gingrich in the fall.

    The Democrats want Mitt "I like firing people" Romney to get the Nomination.


    January 18, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. fredisdead

    the south is remarkably third world in many respects but I wonder if the low levels of education is by design. I wonder what kind of leaders they would attract with a bit more classroom exposure

    January 18, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. grrace

    Have you noticed that the racists really come out of the woodwork to defend racists like Newt Gingrich?

    January 18, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. bdylanbdj03

    The Republican Primary is showing its true colors. Hopes to restore rich White America over equality and 'liberal' ideals. Their rhetoric is dangerous to their own citizens and the rest of the world. "We need to find and kill our enemies." "Kill them." Then Romney says "We need a military so strong no one would ever think to ever test it." We already do. We have seen this kind of rhetoric before in history and it results in one thing – world war. The Republican's insist they are running on freedom and peace and propserity, yet the reality is they are running on war against Iran and the rest of our enemies. They are running on racist tactics and it is evident who they are trying to appeal to as we saw in the South Carolina debate. They attack Obama as not patriotic? Wow. Unbelievable this party. Not only do they no longer stand for Republican ideals, they are dividing America between 'conservative and liberal,' 'white and black,' 'minority and majority.' Newt Gingrich is the most bigotrous candidate in history. "Spanish is the language of the ghetto." "Palestinians don't exist." "We need to put paychecks in the hands of black folks, not food stamps." The truth is food stamps are needed as a result of your failed Republican Policies and Bush era consequences. We have seen Obama stop the bleeding and actually turn things around. We all agree spending needs to be cut drastically, but Republicans don't stand for that. They propose increased spending to our military – the largest section of government our budget is devoted to. They profess freedom yet support bills that invade American liberties. They don't believe in the right to privacy. They are out of touch with America and frankly have become a party that is against their own ideals.

    January 18, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. gt

    no body listens to what carter says...

    January 18, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Gurgi

    @tumbleweed,,,way to fit the "racist against white people" stereotype, and the "angry black man/woman" stereotype. If you don't want to be stereotyped, then don't fit the stereotype.

    January 18, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Thor - As hysterical as Mr Carter has been over some very obscure issues, I must agree with him. Here we go again with a white wealthy Catholic Southern bigot. .... .... where oh where are you Hillary
    With her racist husband Bill. Remember when Obama was running and these fools even accused him of being racist?! Proof positive these race baiting Democrats use this BS to try and silence and denograte their opponents.

    January 18, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Mike from Calgary

    Instead of giving people fish on a regular basis, why not empower them by teaching them how to fish? Gingrich said little more than rather than enslaving people with dependancy, let's do what we can to empower people to become self-sufficient competent contributors to their families and to their communities.

    If their is any racism here, it would appear to be in President Carter's own mind and heart!

    Why are Obama and Carter and Democrat's now doing all they can to suppress Gingrich? Appears that they, like Sarh Palin now have a PROUFOUND GRASP OF THE OBVIOUS : WITH ROMNEY AT THE HELM, THE REPUBLICANS DON'T HAVE A PRAYER!

    January 18, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Gale

    How come it is not "racist" to have a black caucus? How come it is not racist to honor Martin Luther King for the black neighborhood? How come whenever a white person even mentions a black man, group, politician, he is a racists, bit the reverse is not true??How come when a white boy attacks a black boy, it is a hate crime, but when a black boy or man attacks, shoots, kills, or robs a white person it is not a hate crime? Just sayin

    January 18, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. NC

    @Catmom: I agree with you. As someone that was born in the segregated south over 60 years ago I know racism.
    As a minority I resent anyone saying I live off the government. My family has been in every war or conflict since World War ll. Our ancestors were slaves but later generations became teachers, nurses, police officers, small business owners, and ministers.The V Hawley's of this world want someone to blame because they don't have what it takes to make a living. My family helps anyone that needs help that includes poor white people.

    January 18, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Kip Addada

    Do you people calling Obama the "Food Stamp President" not have the ability to think for yourselves? Any President elected during the current economic crisis could be called the same thing. Read you imbeciles. Stop taking everything spewed out by right-wing radio as Gospel. And if you can read between Newt's lines and figure out who he is pandering to, you are beyond an imbecile.

    January 18, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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