July 28th, 2010
03:47 PM ET
8 years ago

McConnell: Tea Party not racist

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the Tea Party movement is not racist.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the Tea Party movement is not racist.

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."

Related: Top Republican mum on Tea Party controversy

"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

Filed under: Mitch McConnell • Tea Party movement
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Peggy - TX

    Example of nonsensical message from Rick McDaniel :“Please stop the dictatorship from destroying this country” .. .... Seriously how can any one have a conversation with idiots like Rick. Sir, are you a new immigrant who does not understand how Government works? Are you a high school drop out? Or, are you an idiot that actually believes the propaganda fed to idiots like you by Boss Rush?

    July 28, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. cwalk

    thr proof is in the pudding.

    July 28, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Laverne

    The tea party is quickly becoming a comfortable place for racist to take up their causes. It is just fine to be passionate about certain policies you like or dislike, it is not fine to call people monkey, spit on them, call them faggots, draw racist pictures of the president just because you don't like how things are going. Everything the status quo is challenged in this country, minorities have to take the backlash and have to relive the past of such hatred because people can't express themselves constructively. The sad part is so many tea partiers call themselves chrisitians, I think the Jesus I know would be extremely disappointed that his name is used in such a vain way. There is nothing godly about how most of these tea partiers act. And by the way, even though most tea partiers are fairly educated people, you would not know that because of the way they behave, they act if they are straight out of a barn!

    July 28, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. rositaCA


    if you don't see it, you are blind and republican!
    Can you see hispanics, asians, blacks, arabs in the tea parties?? the answer is NO, cause they are racist

    July 28, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. FactCheck

    And the sky is not blue and water is not wet.

    July 28, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. MikeH

    It's been documented and exhibited on the Rachel Maddow show that Republican strategists are exploiting "Negrophobia" to buid support for their candidates.

    Make no mistake, the Republicans are using the Tea Party to race-bait for them, to secure political wins for Republican candidates based upon racial hatred.

    People, if America goes back under the RepubliKlan knife again, what comes out won't be America any more. If you truly love democracy you must organize and oppose and defeat Republicans everywhere.

    July 28, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. annie s

    Checks and balances? You mean total obstruction, don't you? If not, why have republicans voted even against bills that they originally sponsored? Wake up America, put these fools back in power and turn the clock back to the Bush years.

    July 28, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Charlie in Maine

    The tea party is not racist but they are about color. Not balck and white but green like money. Their average income is $150K+. They were founded to stop the rich from paying their share of the nations healthcare. They are trying to make GW's tax breaks permanent that's what they are about. They have turned the original Tea Party's complaint on it's head. The original Tea Party was complaining about taxation without representation. They now want represrntation without taxation. It is that simple. In it's own way it is sinester, but it is not racist.

    July 28, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. McClucky

    There's lot of racism within the tea party. But I can't believe Obama and Biden got to the RIGHT of McChinfat because McGoiter is afraid to answer a question.

    July 28, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. B.H.

    We only read the signs and see the pictures they wave at Tea Party rallies. That speaks for itself.

    July 28, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. David

    I am sure there are a significant percentage of Tea Partiers that are not reacist but I do not see how one could deny that this element exists within their ranks and certainly the GOP/Tea Party leaders certainly have race bated ever since Obama won the dem nomination.

    July 28, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    Not racist, Mr. McConnel? Well...Okay...I guess I must concede my views based upon endless video snips and images since The Tea Party came to the news forefront during Health Care Reform. Are those less than presidential signs of Presidential Obama now forbidden at the rallies? Are you appearing with your 'happy face' to demonstrate what a warm and friendly cooperative guy you are? And hows the ol' gang up at Fox? I'm sorry to ask but I haven't listened to them lately. Is Glen Beck okay, did Jesus save him from his affliction? Is Rus Limbaugh still hittin' them pain pills? Are Hannity and O'Reilly ready to give the President a firm handshake instead of a sloppy one? Are Williams and Beitman really sorry? How about Ann Coulter? Is she as genuine as she seems here of late? And finally is Kentucky threatening to sesede like Texas and Tennessee? Can I do an interview with you, pretty please? I'm sure we can get this whole thing straightened out with me as your guide.

    PS. I would really, really, really like to interview John Boehner too.

    July 28, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. MAhole

    Hey Mitch – YOU LIE!!!

    July 28, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Larry

    McConnell has lied so much he doesn't know what the truth is.

    July 28, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Eric

    Sorry hippies, but the hysterical overuse of "YERARACIST!!!" has rendered the accusation comical and nonsensical at this point. It no longer means anything.

    All the silly claims of "YERARACIST!!!" have devalued REAL racism in this country. Lynching in the old south 90 years ago... THAT was REAL RACISM. Disagreeing and opposing the forced indentured servitude and socialism of the current president (who incidentally is "of color") is not racism...it's the common sense of a free people (well, free "for now"... give it time, he's still got two years).

    We disagreed with HillaryCare in 1994.
    Does that make us $exist now, too?

    July 28, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Valerie Jay

    Watching the Tea Party marches with their racist signs, references to President Obama and Hitler, and vile pictures of the President, reminds me why I am no longer a supporter of any Republican politican. It is clear that the Tea Party was founded and started by Republicans, schedules sent by E-mail or hand-outs, busses chartered, lunch boxes provided and, probably the most insulting signes offered as the Tea Partiers leave the busses. This is what the once-proud Republican party has become. There are still some older, long-time Republicans in office yet they dare not speak out about these insulting marches less Boss Rush will put out the word and run them out of office. After a lifetime of supporting Republicans, I am ashamed of what they have become and none will ever again get my vote or financial support.

    July 28, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Eric July 28th, 2010 4:58 pm ET
    "......We disagreed with HillaryCare in 1994.
    Does that make us $exist now, too?"

    And the alternative that the republicans came up with back then was nearly identical to "Obamacare." Have a nice day!

    July 28, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. jean2009

    Has he ever been drinking the poisoned tea, of course their racist.

    July 28, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. DianeRPCFL

    I disagree with two things in this article:

    1) The Tea Party is NOT a grassroots conservative movement. The only grass roots to the Tea Party movement is that it is rooted in the deep-pockets of the United States of Corporate America. Follow the money trail and you will quickly discover that its funding source runs through Texas oil and gas conglomerates, headed by its bought-and- paid-for-ex-congressman, Dick Armey.

    2) The average Tea Party member is racist. Those cotrolling it may not be racist. But, the Andrew Breitbart-Fox News Tea Party is built on the basis of manipulating and exploiting the distrust and dislike of America's first black president by older, white, wealthier people. No better example of this is the blatant manipulation of a video to make it seem as though a USDA employee by the name of Sharon Sherrod was a black racist.

    July 28, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Jeff in Virginia

    Why does CNN allow anybody, especially known liars, to be quoted in a headline?

    July 28, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Most Tea-Baggers are not racists, but more than a few are. Most Tea-Baggers are not smart, but less that a few are. Most Tea-Baggers are not truly conservative, but a few are. Most Tea-Baggers wouldn't know what true conservatism is, but a few might. Most Tea-Baggers have the thought processes of a 3rd grader, but more than a few who could show more advanced thought processes nonetheless try their utmost to attain the 3rd grade level just to fit in with their chosen culture.

    July 28, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. rdepontb

    Ha, ha, ha-I love that posting by Video Guy. Don't let's go upset ol' Rush, Mitch! Hahahaha

    July 28, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Wayne

    Yes they are. I wish they'd stop lying.

    July 28, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Independent One

    What's sad is at the beginning of 2009 alot of people wanted a viable third party and thought the tea party would be it (I for one) but realized I certain could not be apart of a party that shows NO civility NO decency and far tooooooooo much divisiveness

    July 28, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. jay1975

    Wow, so there were a few signs held by individuals that were shown over and over again, so the whole movement must be racist, according to many here. Look Byrd, when he was kicking around and Reid and others in the Dem party who have said racist remarks. Do you call the whole party racist? I do not, apparently, you are not smart enough to separate the acts of the individual with the message of the whole. What a sad state we are in.

    July 28, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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