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. Dave, Central Illinois

    KKK, NAACP, New Black Panters, Nazis, LaRazza – all racist hate groups.
    BET, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus – examples of organizations based upon race which an equivalent white organization would be blasted. Lib hypocracy knows no limits.

    July 18, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Jeff

    It's a non-story fabricated by the MSM..

    There's no question to answer..

    The Tea Party has racist elements in sure, as do the Republicans, Democrats, and America in general.. Big deal.

    The NAACP just wanted to feel relevant again. I believe Race-baiters truly wish there was not a black president, so they would still feel needed.

    July 18, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Gene from Georgia

    Dan TX, I'll have to disagree with you and reverse the percentages. The teabaggers are more like 10% Libertarian purists and 90% racist to the core bigots. Talk to them. Pretend you're one of them and then hear what that 90% are really thinking. Scratch the surface and you'll find what's really motivating them. Pure racial hatred.

    July 18, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. phoenix86

    This is why the republican have trouble. McConnell wants to stay out of a fight between the constitution and liberal-hypocracy. This cowardice in the face of attacks on morality and decency make the republicans look like democrats.

    Time to man up Mitch.

    July 18, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. marxist dogs are out of control

    Mr. Obama has proven beyond a doubt that he is a Marxist and a Racist, a very toxic combination. The attempt by the NAACP and CNN to smear certain groups to advance the Progressive/'Democrat/Radical agenda in November is going to come back to bite them in the arse.

    July 18, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Willy Brown

    The democrats are in trouble this fall. The tea party has been around for a while so NOW it’s time to try and brand them as racist with the help of the DNC, the rent a reverends and liberal media. Buh bye democrats it’s going to good to see you go!

    July 18, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Peter M

    Mitch has a hood in his closet just like the rest of the Rethugs in the Deep South. Most of their money and so-called base is nothing but the clan.

    July 18, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. marxist dogs are out of control

    Gayle – so what do you have against Christians in general and Mormons in particular ? Are they not subserviant enough to the Pelosi/Obama enligtenment ?

    July 18, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    Mitch makes me uncomfortable. He is one of the party of no and do nothings.

    Here's how a perfect government could run
    Listen to Rush Limburger, Sean insanity, Bill no'reality and Glen pecker head and then do the complete opposite.

    July 18, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. SuburbanBob

    @ both Johns... Your rhetoric doesn't support your cause or your claims. One of you says that there aren't any racists and then clearly sounds like one. And the other claims that protests from around the world have anything to do with the 1,000 (since you made up your number I'll do the same... only mines closer) times more pics of Obama as a Nazi at tea bagger rallies than pics of bush as same. Quit sippin' the kool aid boys.

    July 18, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Lynne

    Of course he doesn't want to get into the debate. He might have to show some balls and alienate the Tea Party for their tolerance of racists in their party. What a coward. The Republicans are as afraid of the TPers as there were of the bible-thumpers during the Bush years.

    July 18, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. jane

    "Mum" means the Republicans are going to benefit all they can from the Tea Baggers statement about blacks, but they're going to try to make it seems as though they're above getting in such a "spat."

    July 18, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. marxist dogs are out of control

    Peter M – I don't what is worse, a handful of KKK scatered around the country or large numbers of pedophiles centered almost exclusively in Democrat party districts.

    July 18, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. vic

    Tea party stuck in republicans throat

    July 18, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. SuburbanBob

    @ marxist dogs are out of control
    Still have bush/cheney teeth marks in my rump... You guys aren't slow learners... just fast forgetters.

    July 18, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Jake

    Racism is a two way street, but for some reason only white people ever get hit crossing it.

    The label "racist" has replaced the "pink commie" of the 1950s. It's an accusation that people use to destroy lives and careers. There seems to be no way to reasonably protect yourself from it. Once someone brands you a racist there's almost nothing you can do to defend your integrity. 99% of the time it's totally groundless, and in a free society we should be free to think and feel what we want; be it culturally sensitive or not.

    July 18, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Howard

    So, the NAACP makes irresponsible, overly exaggerated claims that there are racists in the Tea Party movement, while looking the other way when the extremely racist new black panthers commit blatant voter intimidation ... the only thing more absurd than this, are the liberals who accused anyone of racism, for merely disagreeing with their empty empty suit communist savior ... Hussein Obama.

    July 18, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. thor

    The NAACP is just try to paint the tea party members as being a bunch of racist and that is not true.They want to increase black voters to go out and vote and what better way than playing the race card againt what you perceive to be your enemy.

    July 18, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. marxist dogs are out of control

    Suburbanbob – your O-bah-meesta buddies called for the assination of Bush, time and time again. It has become a fantasy you folks. CNN has even allowed postings here advocating that. Don't see anything of that coming from the right against Obama.

    July 18, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Sue, Vienna, VA

    Anyone who believes that the tea party people are not racist are deluding themselves! As a former republican, I would NEVER vote for anyone in that party again. I have listened to the " leaders" (and I use that term loosely) in their party denounce, denigrate, and just plain bash President Obama and the Democrats until they sound like a bunch of spoiled adolescents who haven't gotten their way. It has grown so extremely tiring and predictable that I don't even have to watch the news anymore to know their comments and reactions to anything the Democrats have to say! I would be ashamed to be a republican today!

    July 18, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Of course he's mum........

    Of course he's mum.....because Mark Williams is mentally challenged and his arguments invalid....thereby causing destruction to the Republican party in drag.....the Tea Party.

    July 18, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. steve

    Is there any doubt that Republican "family values" are just code words for intolerance and racism? Makes you wonder who votes for these idiots? Maybe this would be a better place to live if the candidates and people who support and vote for them went to some other country to spew their hatred.

    July 18, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Oh my goodness.... do you expect a Repuke to actually answer and question or have an idea? Too busy criticizing the president for taking a weekend trip....

    How many vacation days had Bush taken??? Hmmmmm

    July 18, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. usualone

    On another Sunday morning show, key Republicans would not answer the moderator's question about how they would balance the budget. They talk a good game but avoid answering questions, as is the usual case for McConnell.

    July 18, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Howard

    The Tea Party, and their Republican allies, are nothing more than America's Taliban.

    July 18, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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