Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said President Obama's comments about the controversial killing of Florida resident Trayvon Martin were "disgraceful." 

Obama made his first public comments on Friday about the killing of Martin, an unarmed Florida teenager who was killed weeks ago by a self-identified volunteer neighborhood watchman. The killing has sparked protests around the country and a nationwide debate over race. 

In his remarks on the case to reporters Friday, Obama said hoped to see the case investigated properly because "if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon." 


In an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, Gingrich said he was disturbed by Obama's comments about race. 

"What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful," Gingrich told Hannity Friday evening. "It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period."

Martin was killed on Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, who told police he was acting in self-defense. Martin was carrying only Skittles candies and a can of iced tea when he was shot.

"We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background," Gingrich said of the case. "Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up." 

Gingrich added that he thought it was a "tragedy" that Martin was shot, but he said his sadness about the case had nothing to do with Martin's race. 

"It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American," he said. "At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling." 

In his remarks on Friday, Obama said of Martin's family, "I can only imagine what these parents are going through.

"When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened,” the president said in remarks at a Rose Garden ceremony after unveiling his nominee for the World Bank.

"I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out, how does something like this happen," Obama said.