White House senior advisor David Plouffe on Sunday blasted several Republican presidential candidates after they claimed President Barack Obama was trying to divide America by speaking about an unarmed African American teen in Florida who was gunned down by a neighborhood watch enthusiast.
Responding to a reporter on Friday, Obama said he felt for the parents of slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after he was pursued and gunned down by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman.
“You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” the president explained.
By Friday afternoon, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was accusing Obama of trying to divide the country with racial comments.
“That’s just nonsense,” Gingrich said of Obama’s remarks. “Dividing this country up, it is a tragedy this young man was shot.”
Also on Friday, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum lashed out at the president.
“And then, his, again, politicizing it, this is not what presidents of the United States do,” Santorum told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “What the president should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic cases to try to drive a wedge in America.”
On Sunday, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Plouffe for his reaction.
“At some points, this Republican primary has been more of a circus show and a clown show. And those two comments are really irresponsible. I would consider them reprehensible.”
“The president spoke movingly about this tragedy as a father. He made it clear that there’s investigations going on. So, I think those comments were really hard to stomach really, and I guess trying to appeal to people’s worse instincts.”
Watch this video from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast March 25, 2012.