Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that the Tea Party movement is not racist, clarifying a position voiced last week in which he sidestepped the prickly issue.
Last week, when asked about the controversy on CNN's State of the Union, McConnell said "Oh my goodness, ... I'm not interested in getting into that debate."
"What we're 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," McConnell said.
Asked by Tea Party activist and radio host Mandy Connell on Monday about his statements on CNN, McConnell clarified his position.
"Well it probably wasn't my best answer," McConnell said. "What I should have done is agree with Joe Biden who said he and the president agreed the Tea Party is not a racist organization. That would have been a lot better answer."
McConnell's appearance on State of the Union came on the heels of a week in which elements of the Tea Party movement were caught in an imbroglio with the NAACP.
The longstanding civil rights organization passed a resolution that called on the conservative grassroots movement to repudiate racism within its ranks. The resolution set off a national firestorm that came to a head Friday when Mark Williams, a spokesman for a national Tea Party group, decided to remove a satirical letter he had posted on his blog site earlier in the week in response to the resolution.
-CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report