ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:
With unusual bluntness, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Thursday attacked comments about the earthquake in Haiti by Rev. Pat Robertson and talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh as “really stupid.”
On the 700 Club Wednesday, Robertson suggested the plight of Haiti is a result of a deal with the devil Haitians made with Satan in the late 1700s.
Haitians “were under the heel of the French, uh, you know Napoleon the 3rd and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the Devil,” Robertson said. “They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' True story. And so the Devil said, 'Okay, it's a deal.’ And, uh, they kicked the French out, you know, with Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by, by one thing after another…”
Said Gibbs when asked about the comments, “it never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid. But it like clockwork happens with some regularity.”
Gibbs began to say something else but then stopped himself.
“It actually applies to what I might have said and I quickly formulated it through,” he said.
On his show Wednesday, Limbaugh was asked by a caller about the president urging Americans to go to Whitehouse.gov to contribute to the Red Cross to help Haitians.
“Would you trust that the money is going to go to Haiti?” Limbaugh said. “Would you trust that your name is going to end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?”
Limbaugh added, “besides, we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the US income tax.”
The talk radio giant said President Obama “runs around the world apologizing for” the US and “he now turns to as its president and asks people who have lost their jobs because of his policies to donate to WhiteHouse.gov to the people of Haiti, and we will do it. We are the most charitable and the most generous people on the face of the earth. Each and every time a natural disaster like this happens, we step up. We are there.”
Paraphrasing White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel – who once said “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste” -- Limbaugh said, “we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, ‘credibility’ with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.”
Gibbs had ended his briefing today, but walked back to the podium upon request to respond to a question about Limbaugh’s remarks.
“In times of great crisis, there are always people that say really stupid things,” Gibbs said. “I don't know how anybody could sit where he does, having enjoyed the success that he has, and not feel some measure of sorrow for what has happened in Haiti. I think to use the power of your pulpit to try to convince those not to help their brothers and sisters is sad. My sense is that most people, though, because they understand we're part of an amazing world, wont' listen and instead will seek to help those that they know, because it is through no fault of their own, have suffered an unspeakable tragedy.”
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller