Trayvon Martin Case: Gingrich, Santorum Comments 'Despicable,' Says Obama Aide

 
on March 28 2012 12:32 PM
Trayvon Martin Case: Obama Aide Calls Gingrich, Santorum Comments 'Despicable'
Stephenie Cutter, a top aide in Obama's re-election campaign, lashed back at GOP candidate Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for their assertion that Obama had played the race card in his commentary on the Trayvon Martin case, calling their reactions "abysmal" and "despicable" and accusing them of being the truly divisive politicians in the case. Reuters

Stephenie Cutter, a deputy manager for Obama's re-election campaign, told CNN's Soledad O'Brien that GOP presidential primary candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were the truly divisive politicians in the Trayvon Martin case, calling the accusation against that he was racializing the tragedy abysmal and despicable.

Last Friday, the president weighed in for the first time on the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., by 28-year-old volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin.'

When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, Obama said in the Rose Garden. He had declined to speak on the tragedy until then, and was careful to parse his comments, based on the involvement in the case by the U.S. Department of Justice.

He did, however, reach out to the parents of Trayvon Martin.

I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, Obama said. And that everybody pull together.

If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin, he concluded. All of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves.

'Pouring gas on our racial fire.'

Many listeners were moved by President Obama's speech, with several news sources praised the commander-in-chief for his statements.

Newt Gingrich, however, appearing on The Sean Hannity Show, called the president's comments disgraceful, and argued that Obama, by saying Martin looked like what his son would have been like, was putting the issue of Martin's race above the tragedy itself.

Is the President suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be okay because it didn't look like him? Gingrich asked. That's just nonsense dividing this country up.

Earlier in the day, Gingrich told reporters that though he believed Zimmerman was at fault, trying to turn it into a racial issue was fundamentally wrong.

I really find it appalling, he concluded.

Rick Santorum, meanwhile, speaking on Scott Hennen's radio show, accused Obama of purposefully pouring gas on our racial fire.

It's clear the president has been not a uniting figure on an issue that, I think many Americans thought he would be, Santorum said.

'He spoke from the heart.'

Cutter, as a top Obama aide, was infuriated by Santorum and Gingrich's responses, saying their words underscored the true source of divisiveness in the U.S. was not the president but GOP candidates willing to do or say anything to get elected.

The president took a question the other day in the Rose Garden and he spoke from the heart in empathizing with parents who lost a son in a very tragic incident, Cutter told O'Brien.

I think it's abysmal, despicable, that people like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are trying to make this a divisive issue.

On the campaign trail, she added, on their last desperate hopes, as they're moving through the primary process, they should watch their own words.

'He's clearly chosen the latter path.'

Cutter is not the first Obama supporter to lash back at the GOP candidates for their harsh words toward the president.

David Plouffe, Obama's senior adviser, called Gingrich's comments reprehensible, saying they showed Gingrich was obviously in the last throes of his political career.

You can make a decision whether to go out with some shred of dignity or say these irresponsible, reckless things, Plouffe said on ABC's This Week.

He's clearly chosen the latter path, and that's unfortunate for the country.

Share this article