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. WillyNilly

    I don't think of folks from Montana as 'Yankees', they are Westerners. Montana was still a territory when the Yankees and Rebels were having a fuss.

    June 20, 2014 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  2. Charlie

    The left would be calling for this guys head if he was a republican.

    June 20, 2014 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  3. Emohermione

    I heard Obama is gonna outlaw gaydar but I think it violates out second amendment rights.

    June 20, 2014 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  4. Wopalong

    I thought gaydar was a gay thing ?

    June 20, 2014 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  5. Franky

    Oh ... I thought Cantor was out of the closet, he's not?

    June 20, 2014 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. Chad

    Wow. I'm a Democrat and will happily call him out on this. He's using perceived homosexuality (and probably dead wrong, at that) as an insult. Completely inappropriate. My initial thought would be, "So what if [whomever] is gay?" It's absolutely irrelevant in any political discourse.

    Besides, if you want to make fun of effeminate Southern Republicans, Lindsey Graham is a MUCH better target. Just ask Jon Stewart, whose Graham impression never fails to get me laughing. But even Stewart, who is a comedian and not an elected official, has never hinted or suggested that Graham is gay or that he sets off his "gaydar."

    June 20, 2014 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  7. Log

    LBMO – His gaydar, hilarious! If anything he looks a little sweet himself. Maybe him and Cantor can get together. lol

    June 20, 2014 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  8. Rick

    He didn't say being gay was bad, so no points deducted there. But saying men in the south are effeminate pretty much throws away any chance of him being elected in a presidential run, even of he does have a point 8)

    June 20, 2014 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  9. fbmaxwell

    Southern Sky wrote: "Come down South Yankee Boy and find out how effeminate Southern men are."

    We've seen Lindsay Graham, that shining example of southern masculinity elected to represent South Carolina.

    June 20, 2014 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  10. zenreaper

    Shame he doesn't own a basketball team, they could take it away from him.

    June 20, 2014 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  11. RGD

    Well, if he does run I'm sure he can count on the southern male vote now.

    June 20, 2014 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  12. Kris

    I do think his comments are a little silly. So what if Cantor is gay, it is not a bad thing. But of course he would actually be bi, but anyway. Why did he feel it necessary to make such a stupid comment?

    June 20, 2014 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  13. Brennerr

    Had it been a Republican?

    "GOP Gov. makes homophobic rant"

    June 20, 2014 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  14. Enough is Enough

    You need to pull this article immediately CNN! It is not in keeping with the correct narrative regarding Democrats or progressives.....

    June 20, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  15. Floyd Schrodinger

    Are all politicians obnoxious morons? Why do we allow these idiots to run our country?

    June 20, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  16. carre1

    I think what Schweitzer meant was that Cantor seems gay. Being gay means nothing to Schweitzer but would be a big deal to a conservative Republican. As for the Southern men, he's wrong there, although a lot of them do protest too much, but no more than men from any other region. The NASCAR types wouldn't vote for Schweitzer anyway so what he says about them doesn't matter. I like Schweitzer's positions, but he's got to watch what he says. Don't give Republicans anything to use.

    June 20, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  17. insi10

    Matt Amity: I think you're missing a bit of the point. I thought Eric Cantor might be gay, too. But if one is a politician, one doesn't say things like that. In the language of politics, saying a Republican seems gay is an attack intending to damage his standing with his political base. Dirty politics.

    June 20, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  18. rla

    Amazing how progressives and the media don't have a cow when a dimocrat goes off the PC message!

    June 20, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  19. Boomer in Mo

    Willy Nilly Montana was not even thought of in 1776 and was part of the Louisiana Purchase during the Jefferson Administration.

    June 20, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. Boomer in Mo

    Willy Nilly Montana was not even thought of in 1776 and was part of the Louisiana Purchase during the Jefferson Administration.
    Politicians really need to stay out of other people's sex lives. It's none of their business. I always think people concerned about other people's sex lives have none of their own.

    June 20, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. Malory Archer

    Amazing how the reds and the media don't have a cow when a rethugliban goes off the PC message!



    June 20, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Thomas

    When I listen to Eric Cantor , Rick Perry or Ted Cruz , they come across as a little light in the loafers !

    How many non log cabin republicans have token wives ?

    This has nothing to do with Southern Gentlemen , yet we will always think of the movie Deliverance when we go camping !

    June 20, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Why is all of the attention put on what this idiot said about Cantor? Didn't he say something 100x worse about Dianne Feinstein?? Calling a member of Congress a hooker tops his comment about Cantor in my book. Why is this barely mentioned? The headlines regarding this story are very misleading. This reminds me of every single article I have read here about the IRS. Huge headlines stating how the IRS is unfairly targeting the poor, put upon wealthy tax cheating conservatives, and then one lousy sentence at the end stating liberal groups were targeted too.

    This is what passes for journalism in this country today? No wonder the majority of the people are uninformed. Forget news, this is no more than glorified gossip.

    June 20, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. sifto

    HaHa..an anti gay democrat? Where is the firing squad?

    June 20, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Bill from GA

    How about his general put-down of Southerners: " men in the South, they are a little effeminate,"

    i was looking for an alternate Dem to Hillary, this idiot from Montana Ain't The One.

    June 20, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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