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For comments on Haiti, Pat Robertson blasted by White House

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The White House on Thursday lashed out at two sets of controversial comments about the situation in Haiti. Pat Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," made comments that were “utterly stupid,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Mr. Gibbs also criticized remarks made by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh as “really stupid” and “sad.”

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What Robertson said

On Wednesday, conservative televangelist Robertson said Haiti had made a “pact with the devil” to defeat French colonizers in a 1791 slave rebellion. “Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another,” he said.

After the comments caused a firestorm online, Robertson’s “700 Club” TV show issued a statement saying, “Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.” The statement added that "Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them.”

When Gibbs was asked about Robertson’s initial remarks, he said, “It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid but like clockwork happens with some regularity.”

What Limbaugh said

On his widely listened to radio broadcast on Wednesday, Limbaugh made a number of derisive comments about the massive aid effort the US government has launched. At one point, Limbaugh said, “Besides, we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the US income tax.”

According to the official transcript of his program on Wednesday, Limbaugh also said: “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.... It's made-to-order for them."

Limbaugh also said, “There are people that have been trying to save Haiti just as we're trying to save Africa. You just can't keep throwing money at it because the dictatorships there just take it all.”

What the White House said

At the very end of his briefing on Thursday, Gibbs was asked about Limbaugh’s comments, which the questioner characterized as a call not to donate to relief efforts.

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Gibbs's response: “Again, I think in times of great crisis there are always people who say really stupid things.... To use the power of your pulpit to try to convince those not to help their brothers and sisters, is sad.”

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