March 25th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
11 years ago

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction

Washington (CNN) – "Reprehensible." "Irresponsible." "Hard to stomach."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe did not mince words Sunday when talking about the reaction by Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to President Barack Obama's comments on the Trayvon Martin shooting.

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"Those two comments are really irresponsible. I would consider them reprehensible," Plouffe said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think those comments were really hard to stomach, really, and I guess trying to appeal to people's worst instincts."

While the GOP presidential candidates said the incident was a tragedy, Santorum and Gingrich were particularly critical of the president's response to the shooting in which Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by a George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.

A somber Obama on Friday commiserated with the Martin family and urged authorities to fully investigate the shooting.

"If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," Obama said. "I think (his parents) are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Santorum said the president politicized the events, while Gingrich characterized Obama's comments as "nonsense."

"What the president of the United States should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America," Santorum said Friday on "The Hugh Hewitt Show," a radio program.

"Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn't look like him? That's just nonsense," Gingrich said Friday on conservative host Sean Hannity's radio show, "The Hannity Show." "I mean dividing this country up, it is a tragedy this young man was shot."

But Plouffe, who served as Obama's 2008 campaign manager, said the Republican reaction is evidence of a circus-like primary.

"I don't think there's very many people in America that would share that reaction. You know, this Republican primary at some points has been more of a circus show and a clown show," Plouffe told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Although he indicated the Obama campaign expects Romney to be the Republican nominee, Plouffe also predicted an aggressive election come fall.

"Romney has a big delegate lead so we've always felt you know because Romney's won a couple of big states lately, the fundamentals kind of support him," Plouffe said. "But it's going to be a close competitive race no matter who come out the other side."

Also see:

Santorum's Louisiana win does little to change the game of delegate math

‘Math isn’t adding up,’ Gingrich delegate says

Santorum video: 'Obamaville' is a house of horrors

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Common sense grandma

    If President said the Earth rotates around the Sun, Santorum and Gingrich and others in the GOP would criticize him. Perhaps the best strategy is for the President to declare that global warming is a fallacy, that he would like to repeal healthcare, that everyone should be armed and that women have no rights at all. Then sit back and enjoy the show az Reverend Ricky and Nutty Newt come out against all of that.

    March 25, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. Paul

    NERO NEWT is the King of Nonsense and so rage-demented that he'd rather cause what is left of the damaged-goods-GOP Brand to burn down to a pile of cinders.

    March 25, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Mark

    El Santo and Moon Loon really dumpster-diving and doing it with the new Breitbart at Fox Noise.

    March 25, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. John

    I'm a 60 year old WHITE male, and I have a 28 year old WHITE son. And to me HE looks like Trayvon Martin, because he is young and his life faces dangers. I had no problem and I have no problem with a President making a personal connection with people. Those a**wipes Newt and Rick, they are just jealous because they never will.

    March 25, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. Jack V

    Common sense grandma: I bow at your feet.

    March 25, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. John Palcewski

    "A circus show and a clown show" is a compliment these Republican liars and moral degenerates don't deserve.

    March 25, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. king

    What do you expect from the rabid repubs mentality. There is nothing this president can say or do, that these repubs doesn't try to twist it around in a racist mode. These folks are masters of twisting and playing to the gullibles of America worst fares. Lesson the bottom line is a child was gunned down in cold blood, yet there wasn't one arrested even though there is a suspect in the case. Lesson this is not the gun fight at the OK Carol.

    March 25, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Ron

    With all the name calling and finger pointing, none of them – on either party – seem mature enough to lead a country.

    March 25, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. diridi

    David, these republicans are totally idiots not to comprehend American Middle Class. Don't you ever worry, this lasts till November, Obama wins landslide this time. Look at the reforms he signed, good for this nation., next is Tax reform, this he signs in second term. Obama2012.

    March 25, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. Tari Torch Sweeney - Shaker Heights, OH

    I think, regardless of politics, that it is a good thing that we have a President who feels enough to comment on the situation....that he is secure enough to feel he can join in the "national conversation", so to speak. And, the other day, the showed all the presidents, the past 40 years or so, who have commented on social/political issues....Obama is not the first, nor will be be the last. These candidates are just grasping,...and it only comes off appearing petty and mean-spirited. The case of that young man is tragic. IT should be treated as such. What a terrible moment in our history. Add it to all the other ones, I guess?

    March 25, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. iadadman

    Plouffe is absolutely correct. But the GOP wouldn't have won a national election for generations now without the votes of racists. Since the polarities of the parties changed in this regard during the Civil Rights Movement, it's a voting bloc they simply can't live without. Of course, they can't campaign openly to them any more, even Ronald Reagan knew that. So we get this kind of slime along with all the dog whistles and codes.

    The entire party isn't racist but they wouldn't get a president elected without racists.

    March 25, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. mike

    The> zealot "aka take the dead baby home sanctimonius" & the blow-hard "visonary" ,were losers from the start of this teabagger clown show!

    March 25, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  13. Lucky18

    What do you expect from two very stupid people! They represent the best the GOP have to offer!!!

    March 25, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. Anonymous

    In other words, while Gingrich and Santorum may think the killing was horrible, they attack Obama for commenting on it too. These two candidates have no qualms about pushing their own views as the only correct ones. But I'm sure if either one of them won the office they wouldn't seek to inflict their personal views on the nation. By the way, if you believe that last statement, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I don't own it but I'd be happy to sell!

    March 25, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. termlimits

    The night of that shooting, police say there was a witness who saw it. FOX 35 in Orlando, has spoken to that witness.

    But one man's testimony could be key for the police. "The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: 'help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911," he said. Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red. The witness only wanted to be identified as "John," and didn't not want to be shown on camera. His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman's claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman. "When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point," John said. Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.Sanford police say Zimmerman was bloody in his face and head, and the back of his shirt was wet and had grass stains, indicating a struggle took place before the shooting.

    According to the Miami Herald on the day he was killed, he had been suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade.

    Martin was 6'3", 140lbs.

    March 25, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  16. When the shoe fits...

    When it comes to "reprehensible" and "irresponsible" the WH doesn't have any room to talk.

    March 25, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  17. malicric

    So while Newt and Rick condemn the shooting they attack Obama for doing it as well. I'm sure these guys would NEVER think of attempting to impose their own views/values on the rest of the country if they won the Presidency. And if you believe that statement there's a bridge in Brooklyn that I don't own but would be happy to sell you!

    March 25, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. toucheami

    What’s with President Obama? He should be showing leadership, not fanning the flames of the racial undertones in this case. He should be calling for calm, ask citizens to show restraint in judgment until all the facts are known. I guess it’s his very divisive nature and character that gets in the way...his behavior is shameful! We do need a full investigation in this case…get ALL the facts before reacting to half baked press releases, or politicians like Obama hoping for political gain at the cost of this tragedy.
    America needs true patriots…we need to heal this country…not have our president incite our citizens that much more…

    March 25, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Peter

    Is this the best that the Republicans can muster? Complaining about Obama's remark that the little boy who was killed might have looked like his son if he had a little boy?

    THIS remarked sparked "outrage" among the Republican candidates?

    I'm sorry, but this crop of Republican candidates is the worst I have seen in my lifetime. What ever happened to the party of Eisenhower, Goldwater and Bill Buckley?

    March 25, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. Geo

    Many white people who see the picture of Trayvon Martin are reminded of their sons or nephews. It doesn't change the fact that Trayvon was probably gunned down merely because he was black, a plain case of cold blooded murder. Certainly worthy of a serious investigation. It certainly brought home to a lot of white people how shockingly worthless a black person's life is in this country.

    March 25, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. skytag

    Gingrich is such a weasel. The president didn't mean anything like what Gingrich implied. I'm as white as they come and I didn't take anything the president said as divisive. Of course all the Obama haters think everything he says is divisive. Maybe they should look in the mirror if they want to see a divisive person.

    March 25, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Thinkergal

    The President said exactly the right thing in precisely the correct manner. The GOP candidates are gold-plated idiots.

    March 25, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  23. truthfulster

    The great part of this story is that a grand jury will be hearing all the evidence pretty soon and a secret witness (one that doesn't want his house burnt down) has already told police he SAW MARTIN BEATING THE HECK OUT OF ZIMMERMAN. Which in such a RIGHTOUS state as Florida means the shooting was self defense and OBUMA has again stuck his foot in his mouth or for you liberals proved once again HE'S A RACIST!!!!!!!!! This witness says by the time he ran upstairs the kid was already shot but that he did see him beating the white guy? This is whats going to happen every time a black gets killed and MANY blacks are just itching for a race war and when they finally get it make sure they can't start another.

    March 25, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. SK-B

    I was shocked that even Newt Gingrich would make such a transparently, self-serving, opportunistic comment.

    March 25, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. clarke

    I understood what the President was saying. It could of been anyones son, it had nothing to do with the young man being black. Why do so many people read into what others say. I feel that what Ricky and Newt said was out of line. This was about the death of a young man, not Obama reaction to it. Rick and Newt only cared about Obama, not the young man and his family. That is what I understood them to say. Newt and Ricky would have done better by not se aying a word. Talk about hate, they really hate the President. Wonder why?

    March 25, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
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