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. Anonymous

    We came down South once Southern Sky...you lost. Shall we go two out of three?

    June 19, 2014 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  2. Eddy

    Matt Amity

    So what? He said someone seems gay. Big deal. He said being gay is not wrong or bad; it's Eric Cantor who thinks gay marriage shouldn't be allowed. Quite frankly I see no big deal here, and I am gay.

    This guy called a spade a spade– Eric Cantor DOES SEEM GAY.


    However, if this had been a statement made by a Republican, he would have been demonized by LGBT groups and liberals. Just stop making excuses for poor behavior simply because they're a Democrat. It just makes you look stupid. The double standard continues.

    June 19, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. RomneyWho

    Texans@63 . . . Comparing Black folk struggle with that of the gay movement is ludicrous and amusingly ridiculous. Being of the gay persuasion is of a branch to itself, growing out of a plastic tree. 🙁

    June 19, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Lifehiker

    It's comforting to me that in very many cases fools destroy their chances to attain high office before they even get a chance to run.

    June 19, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. 2L

    Wait – so he's in love with Eric Cantor?

    June 19, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. RocketJSquirrel

    I am a Democrat. I object.

    June 19, 2014 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  7. realityonetwo

    Hahaha. "Gaydar."

    June 19, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  8. Yawn

    Unless you live under a rock, Brian Schweitzer's comments are not surprising or unusual. Real people discuss and describe things they see and feel without the nonsense of political correctness. It's the hyper-sensitive types who are afraid to point out the obvious differences we all see for fear of offense that worry me far more.

    June 19, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. Wallaceboy

    To me the real issue is how equal remarks are reported differently by the media. If an R says something about gays it is news. If a D says the same thing it is often buried. Is this good news?

    June 19, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  10. DaveLake

    I am sorry but as a Democrat I find his comments offensive.

    June 19, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Oh, I think because he's a democrat, this bigotry can be overlooked. Nothing to see,...just a liberal making fun of being gay...move along.

    June 19, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  12. RexCraigo

    That level of stupid is amazing.

    And also belongs to the republican party.

    June 19, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  13. Jeep Guy

    If a Republican called a Democratic House majority leader gay it would be the headline of the lame stream media 24/7.

    June 19, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  14. aspblom

    Effeminate means "inadequately male' A bigot that one is.

    June 19, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  15. Kerfluffle

    Uh oh...Southern Sky is on the prowl...

    June 19, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  16. Carla

    Judge people for who they are on the inside. Why does someone elses sexual preference matter? Lets talk about ACTUAL politics and stop this distracting, immature, and pointless behavior. In response to:

    "but the mannerisms of the "southern gentleman". To this yankee transplant to the South it has definitely thrown off my gaydar."

    It called manners, dear. I know it's a four letter word nowadays, but it's just manners. It is strange coming from the North and experiencing real, genuine, caring people isn't it?

    June 19, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  17. Ard Vaarken

    "men in the South, they are a little effeminate"

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    June 19, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  18. DickPerry

    So what? All americans seem gay to the rest of the world..

    June 19, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. That's just crazy talk

    ...and Lindsey Graham doesn't?!

    June 19, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  20. Publius1787

    What an interesting comment. While Cantor might be gay, if Schweitzer has said something along the lines of his religion (Cantor is Jewish) or his economic background, then everybody would be after him.

    June 19, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    He was right about both Cantor and Feinstein.

    June 20, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. ItWasn'tAnInsult

    I don't see one thing wrong with his words or his interview. Why would others consider being Gay an insult? I think that's what's more interesting.

    June 20, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  23. HeMustBeGay

    At least he's being honest and upfront about what he thinks. If I were Eric I would take it as a compliment.

    June 20, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  24. Guillermo

    Sen. Lindsay Graham fits the genteel Southern Gentleman profile too, eh?

    And what about that Tom Delay guy? Seemed like he was having waaaaay too much fun on Dancing with the Stars a few years back to at least not be bi-curious...

    June 20, 2014 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  25. nathanbrazil

    I love how everyone is defending him saying it is not that bad. Of COURSE it is BAD. His comments perpetuate stereotypes. It is no better than saying "you know how those gay people all are". It's the typical "its ok if he's a bigot, at least he is OUR bigot". If a republican said "he seems gay, not that I care about that stuff" you would be all over them.

    June 20, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
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