July 18th, 2010
10:43 AM ET
11 years ago

Top Republican mum on Tea Party controversy

Washington (CNN) – The top Republican in the Senate sought Sunday to stay out of the weeklong war of words between the NAACP and the Tea Party movement.

At its annual convention last week, 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.

Related: Satirical letter meant to spark discussion, Tea Party leader says

Asked about the controversy on CNN’s State of the Union, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the prickly issue.

“Oh my goodness, . . . I’m not interested in getting into that debate,” McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “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.”

Asked whether some of the signs and imagery at some Tea Party rallies made him uncomfortable, the Kentucky Republican responded, “there are all kinds of things going on in America that make me uncomfortable, both on the right and on the left. I’ve got better things to do than to wade in to all of these disputes and discussions that are going out in the country.

“What we’re trying to do is to make the president a born-again moderate. We’re trying to send enough conservatives to Congress this November to move him in a different direction.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, had a different take on the racial controversy.

Asked by Crowley whether he believes the Tea Party movement condones racism, Hoyer suggested that some individuals might be taking advantage of the grassroots movement to stir up racial strife.

“I think there are some members who have used the Tea Party – whether it’s the Tea Party itself – there are some individuals who have tried to exacerbate racial tensions in this country,” Hoyer told Crowley.

The leading Democrat added, “What we need to be doing is talking about the issues and solutions and what happened in the past to get us in the ditch that we’re in. If we do that, I think this will be a positive election [in November]. If we try to simply inflame differences and create division, I think that will not be positive and I think that’s frankly what some are doing.”

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Seattle Sue

    So Mitch McConnell is staying mum on this subject. That is so unusual for him, normally his mouth is going a mile a minute usually with statements are untrue. You know secretly he is on the racist side, just too much of a coward to admit it. What a low life.

    July 18, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Hendrik

    So now the Party of No wants to keep quiet and appear above the fray. This after doing everything to poison the waters.

    Will Americans FINALLY stop falling for these losers. If our record is any indication, we will elect these morons again.

    Republicans, the nastiest people in town, all of them, no exceptions.

    July 18, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Kevin Cantu

    ???Born-again Moderate??? by electing more conservatives to the Senate??? Really??? Wow and I thought adding more conservatives you wanted the country to move more to the right....Yeah Well this moderates say HELL NO It's bad enough we're moved to the left then to go back to the right.....I have an idea. How about we just keep it in the middle we're everything makes sense without the polarization brought on by Liberals and Conservatives.

    July 18, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Floyd Scott

    CNN wants them to make a comment so they can call it racist. The worst racist are those who keep making up lies like the NAACP, They need to call attention to themselfs to make money. Now they want to make a State Park in Ca. and who do they think will pay for it. I bet it will be free entrance for blacks or black only park.

    July 18, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Dan, TX

    The problem is that 90% of tea party are pretty much just iibertarians, 10% are either goofballs, idiots, or psychotic. The media and democrats focus on the 10%. That's not fair. Having said that, the tea party nominees seem to be being selected by the 10%, not the 90%. That isn't good for the tea party, the republicans or the democrats. If Sharon Angle gets elected, it really is a vote for anarchy and incompetence.

    July 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. joyce

    Ask McConnell how he intends to get the checks and balances he says the people want.

    July 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. JPX

    “Oh my goodness, . . . I’m not interested in getting into that debate,” That's exactly the problem with the Tea Party and people like Sara Palin; they refuse to answer questions that directly challenge their positions. In this instance McConnell could have stated that he did not agree with the racist elements of some of the Tea Party member. When "Asked whether some of the signs and imagery at some Tea Party rallies made him uncomfortable, the Kentucky Republican responded, 'there are all kinds of things going on in America that make me uncomfortable...'" Another example where he should have answered, "yes" and noted that he does not condone it. These are slippery people.

    July 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Brad

    How can you not get into the debate. You're one of the so called leaders of the republican party. Do you get to pick and choose which issues you get to deal with? Putz.

    July 18, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  9. John from Brooklyn

    What a coward. The approrpiate thing to have said was something like "the American people – and I personally – find racism a horrible legacy that has yet to be resolved. I would call on everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, to search their hearts and try to learn to be more tolerant of people different from ourselves. Racism simply isn't OK...anywhere...anytime."

    July 18, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Lynn

    If they know nothing else, the Republican's know how to tap dance around the truth. Can't blame them, the truth shows them up for what they really are; bigots, big business and mean spirited.

    July 18, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. jerry

    This is such BS and the NAACP is making a big mistake. Let's see, there where signs with him being hanged, burned, looking like Hitler, with books about him being shot and killed. Oh, that was for president Bush, so that’s ok. NAACP is going to lose the
    independent vote, liked mine.

    July 18, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Larry

    I love the way the Republican party always keeps their fences low enough, so as to easily facilitate the jumping back and forth to the Tea Party as needed

    Sarah will be one of the next to step away if she has ANY brains at all, which means she'll stay on board with them

    I think they believe that reality is simply their ability to use the "Tea Party", as a Matrix type location

    Slide the connected shiv into the back of their heads, dial a few numbers, and they can beam themselves into the world of the Little People, where they spew their lies to us, the American people, who they think just wander these streets in some blind comatose

    Think again boys and girls, We The People, see very clearly what the Republican backed Tea Party represents, it represents the CORE VALUES of the Republican party ...

    July 18, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. Weaver


    July 18, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. ronaldmiller3@verizon.net

    everydoby knew that mitch was not going to answer that question agout the tea party racists.He hem and hawed about the the jobs bill had no answer for the hold up on the unemployement bill being passed,no answer for the record number of filisbusters that the gop has instead he had the same old bulls hit about checks and balances where was his checks and balances during the bush years,he would keep the tax cuts for the rich which would add 760 billion to the defict the party of NO is just that,no solutions for the country in which they ran unto the ground other than tax cuts for the rich,repeal the new wallstreet laws and let the country go further in the ground if this is what you want,then vote for the gop,because they have NO answers other than the same as before.

    July 18, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Lori

    Most people realize that you can't say that every single person that is a member of an organization have exactly the same beliefs, however, most members I've seen from the Tea Party seem like bullies to me. They like to say that they only want to protect our rights but I think they have a very dark agenda. I think they are a bunch of narrow minded idiots who want to scare americans in to their way of thinking. Every time I see one of them on a news program in a debate with another guest they are rude and talk over the other person. The racist signs that they have all over the place at their gatherings and they want to turn around and claim that they aren't racist? please.......I wouldn't be suprised to find out that they have several grand wizards in the bunch. They have every right to have their own political beliefs but they are radical and are breeding their own home grown brand of terrorism.

    July 18, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. all of America

    The best thing anybody can do that has any common sense is to stay out of the retoric that the democrats start spilling out of their mouths, with the naacp,black panthers,it all originates at the white house with obama and his followers.We all know by now that this administration is corrupt and will abuse it's power to to stay on top.

    July 18, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. roro

    McConnell doesn't have the guts to say the right thing, so he sidesteps the issue altogether. When are the real Republicans going to stand up to the lunatic fringe, and at least make some effort to get this country moving forward again? No – the party of No is just "... not interested in getting into that debate." Well, which debate are they interested in getting into? When will they finally come up with something other than NO?!!!

    July 18, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Oy Vey Az

    The only direction the Republicans want our country to move is back in time to the Civil War.

    Guess who they want to win.

    July 18, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. ron

    It is almost impossible to keep from insulting the NAACP over anything nowadays. Look at the insane reaction from them about the "Racist" Hallmark greeting card thing.Why cant the NAACP address real issues like the fact that 90% of balck males who are murdered in this country are done so by other blacks.It is easier to blame whites than to deal with the truth.

    July 18, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. John

    Im so sick and tired of the media's attempt to paint the Tea Party as some of a violent, un-american and racist movement.

    There have been hardly any arrests, hardly any violence and less than 0..00001% of the signs and banners at these rallies has been racist in any way.

    Compare that to a typical left wing protest. Smashed windows, anarchists setting fires ( every G8, G20 rally Toronto) , numerous banners comparing Bush to Hitler, deaths ( greece), banners demanding violent revolution and the creation of a communist state etc..

    July 18, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Charlie in Maine

    Mitch McConnel mum huh?

    Wow CNN that really is news.


    July 18, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. normajean

    Actually, what can one say about Mitch McConnell except that he can lie with a benign smile on his face . Don't turn your back on him and don't be dumb enough to believe a word he says. This is one sneaky SOB. He and his buddies, John Boehner and Cantor have worked themselves into a lather this last year and a half trying to get rid of our majority elected president.I wouldn't trust this sneak any farther than I could throw a piano. What really scares me now is that apparently" Mr Tangerine man" is scheduled to succeed Nancy Pelosi NOW THAT IS A REAL DOWNER.


    July 18, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. RAG

    When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Mitch McConnell and the Republican corporate power over-class have been having a dalliance with the Tea Party bitch and are now flea bitten and mangy to boot. The Republicans will do ANYTHING to regain power again for their corporate masters, even fuel this racist and aggressively ignorant "movement" of human trash.

    July 18, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Discernment


    Again and again racist members within a legitimate Tea Party organization continue to lob 'racist insults' at President Obama, African-Americans in general, and Immigrant Latino/Hispanic Americans.

    Sooner or later a 'racist taunt' is going to backfire and leave the Tea Party as impotent and without credibility as the financial crisis of September 2008 imploded thereby leaving the White House Candidates John McCain & Sarah Palin plummeting in the polls just before election day.

    July 18, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. billybob 'n NC

    Turtle Man can only utter two human expressions of communication.... "Mum" and "No."

    July 18, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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