9 hours ago
Subscribe :Vice President Joseph Biden said that neither he nor President Obama believes the Tea Party is a "racist organization" but that there were clearly some "elements" of the movement that harbored such views.
David Webb of the National Tea Party Federation acknowledged on CBS' Face the Nation that there were "fringe elements" in the movement but emphasized that quick action has been taken against those who step over the line on race.
"We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote which he, I guess, may have considered satire but which was clearly offensive," Webb said.
He was referring to a post by Williams on his blog, purportedly written to Abraham Lincoln by "colored people," saying in part: "We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
The issue of racism and the Tea Party has hit the headlines recently following a resolution passed by the NAACP calling on Americans to "repudiate the racism of the Tea Party." The St. Louis Tea Party passed its own resolution in response accusing the civil rights group of "hypocritically engaging in the very conduct it purports to oppose" while other movement spokesmen accused the NAACP of playing the race card.
"The truth is that at least elements that were involved in some of the Tea Party folks have expressed racist views," Biden said. "We saw that on television ... There are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things ... that have expressed really unfortunate comments."
"But I don't believe, the president doesn't believe that the Tea Party is a racist organization," Biden said. "Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization."
On CNN's State of the Union, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, "There are some members who have used the Tea Party ... to exacerbate racial tensions in this country. I have seen some virulent flyers that have been directed at our members, clearly referencing race, the president's race and race generally."
Hoyer pointed to published reports about a billboard put up by the North Iowa Tea Party in Mason City -- and since taken down -- that "went over the top" by picturing Obama between Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin under the titles "National Socialism ... Democrat Socialism...Marxist Socialism."
On the same program, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn't touch the debate over the Tea Party and accusations of racism. "I am not interested in getting into that debate. What we are interested in is trying to have an election this fall that will respond to what the American people are asking us to do, which is to have some checks and balances here," he said.
On NBC's Meet the Press, Texas Sen. Jon Cornyn, a Republican, rose to the defense of the Tea Party. "I think it's slanderous to suggest that the vast movement of citizens who have gotten off the couch and gotten -- showed up at town hall meeting and Tea Party events -- somehow to smear them with this label. It's just -- there's just no basis for it."