June 20th, 2014
07:26 AM ET
8 years ago

Brian Schweitzer apologizes for 'gaydar' comments about Eric Cantor

Updated 6:25 p.m. ET 6/19/2014

(CNN) –Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer apologized for making some controversial comments about outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Dianne Feinstein that sparked outrage.

"I recently made a number of stupid and insensitive remarks to a reporter from the National Journal. I am deeply sorry and sincerely apologize for my carelessness and disregard," the possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said Thursday on his Facebook page.

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In the National Journal piece, Schweitzer shared his perceptions on Cantor's sexuality while discussing the Virginia Republican's shocking loss last week against an unknown primary candidate.

“If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent,” Schweitzer said in the interview.

“Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say this ... men in the South, they are a little effeminate," he said. "They just have effeminate mannerisms.”

Cantor, who represents central Virginia and is outgoing House Majority Leader, has been married to his wife for 25 years and has three children.

Kirsten Kukowski, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said his comments were "out of line," an expected response from the party interested in defending its members. But members of the GOP have also taken heat for comments made about gays and lesbians, including Texas Governor Rick Perry who recently compared being gay to alcoholism, and the Texas Republican Party endorsed conversion therapy.

The Democratic National Committee was also critical.  Spokesman Michael Czin said his comments regarding Cantor are "disappointing especially given his stated support of marriage equality."

Also in the interview, Schweitzer compares fellow Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic senator from California who chairs the Intelligence Committee, to a prostitute.

"She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees," he said about Feinstein’s position on intelligence gathering. “And now she says, 'I'm a nun,' when it comes to this spying. I mean, maybe that's the wrong metaphor — but she was all in!"

Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt, who was also President Barack Obama's national press secretary for his 2012 re-election campaign, said Schweitzer's comments will have consequences, “largely disqualifying” him from presidential run.

"This time the loose cannon was aimed back at the ship," he said.

Schweitzer has proven to be an outspoken and sometimes random pundit since he was unable to run for a third gubernatorial term in 2012 because of term limits. Since then he has publicly pondered a presidential run, even traveling to the critical early caucus state of Iowa in December, where he promoted his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Presumed presidential opponent Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War and the issue dogged her campaign in 2008. He is one of the few Democrats critiquing Clinton's record.

A populist espousing many liberal positions but who won statewide office twice in the red state, Schweitzer also attended former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s ideas summit in Salt Lake City last week. He offered “perspective from the Democratic side,” Spencer Zwick, Romney's former campaign finance chairman said.


Filed under: Brian Schweitzer • Dianne Feinstein • Eric Cantor
soundoff (406 Responses)
  1. HesAnIdiot

    Saying southern men are effeminate is the most stupid thing I'd ever heard.

    June 19, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Jojo

    Lol! I've said pretty much the same thing. But then, I'm not running for POTUS.

    June 19, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. herchato

    Both parties are full of smooth talking devils! Go on Brian tell us how you see it. Lol

    June 19, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. Bob slightly right

    Gaydar? Why make up words when we have a whole dictionary full? To Matt above, anyone using the expression "call a spade a spade" will be crucified if they have an R by their name, why should you get away with it?

    June 19, 2014 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. Bem684

    Wait a minute... I thought Republicans are supposed to say this kind of thing!

    If the media is wrong about that, maybe international conflict really IS more important news than reality TV!

    My worldview is in crisis!

    June 19, 2014 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. Mike

    As a native Georgian, let me just say that Virginia is not the south.

    June 19, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  7. Bem684

    You have to consider his motive in saying what he said. He is clearly lying when he says he doesn't find anything wrong with being gay. If he didn't find anything wrong with it he wouldn't have felt the need to tell the press that he thought Cantor – a political and ideological rival – was gay.

    Would he have said "When I see him on TV, I have to admit I think there's a 70% chance that he plays Bingo?" Of course not. Because if it"s not a negative connotation, and it's not relevant to the discussion of Cantor's loss, he wouldn't be saying it. Clearly being gay isn't relevant to that discussion so Schweitzer must think it's a negative thing.

    June 19, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. Cdogg

    The GOP is going to hit a dead end on their absolve Cantor campaign when they reach the Blue Oyster Bar.

    June 19, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Cdogg

    Both comparisons are apt.

    June 19, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  10. Larry L

    I've always thought Eric Cantor seemed gay – but not in a good way. Still, I lose faith in a politician who feels the need to offer up that bit of silly gossip. With that level of control his chances of making it through a national-level presidential race w/o out pulling a Rick Perry "Oops" are really low. Nobody is really forgiven in partisan politics for saying the childish things most of us were thinking all along. Speaking of gay and Rick Perry... Hey... now I'm doing it!

    June 19, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. SteveInMN

    He might want to consider a run as a candidate of The Republiban - he'd be fairly centrist in their 4th Reich party.....

    June 19, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  12. John Rosen

    After Obama, it's anybody's guess who wins the election for POTUS.

    June 19, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. PoBoy

    Where are these people coming from that are running for elected office these days? Both Republlican and Democrats are saing some of the dumbest things. This nation is really in trouble if this is the best we have to choose as our leaders.

    June 19, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. td40

    "Cantor, who represents central Virginia and is outgoing House Majority Leader, has been married to his wife for 25 years and has three children."

    Oh. Well then he's *definitely* not gay, ha ha. Just like the other millions of men who married women to try in order to secure their public perception and fight their own urges, ha ha ha...

    June 19, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. Raj

    One word, like most GOPer leadership, no class.

    June 19, 2014 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  16. Tim

    Put the shoe on the other foot and imagine that it was a Republican accusing a Democrat of being homosexual. Would we not hear the cries of how "homophobic" and "bigoted" he or she was? It is okay for a Democrat to be homophobic though. It is even okay for a Democrat to be an out right racist. It is only a problem when a Republican acts that way. I think it is time for America to wake up and smell the coffee. These are problems rampant in our society, not just from Republicans, but from Democrats as well. And I can hear your responses already. "But, but the other Democrats don't support what he said. The other Democrats said they were displeased by it." Think back to the last election cycle when we had a Republican that made controversial, and utterly unintelligent, comments about rape. The other Republicans said that he should drop out of the race. The other Republicans said that they did not agree with point of view. How many of you believed them? Do you not think that the Democrats would be just as dishonest as the Republicans to avoid being cast as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.?

    June 19, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  17. Richard Right

    Good Democrat

    June 19, 2014 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Ah, let me look into my crystal ball. I see the political career of a man from Montana slowly fading away. Oops, it's gone. Who says things like this out loud unless they are high? It is so stupid.

    June 19, 2014 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. reality

    Gay people have kids too

    June 19, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  20. realoldguy

    What else do Republicans do well besides slander and character assassination? And then denying any such intent with as much piety as possible...

    June 19, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. Jack

    Gaydar can only be used by gays. Straights don't have it. Is he gay?

    June 19, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  22. Gendee

    I could not agree more, he as always set mine off

    June 19, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  23. Jeff Gibson

    Doesn't Schweitzer know, that only gay people have 'gaydar', which suggests he is saying he, Schweitzer, is gay.

    June 19, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Dave Hadley

    I happen to be a Montanan who was in Grad School with Brian at Montana State University. All I can say at this point, is if you agree or disagree, love him or hate him, the fact is: Brian is NEVER boring.
    Matt Amity – – your input is exceptional. It solidly puts things in perspective. Thank you ! ! !

    June 19, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. enkaynj

    Let Cantor prove he is not gay!!

    June 19, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
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