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. Redspotz

    So much for the universal messaging that states democrats are tolerant. . .

    June 19, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. bobo

    "Not that there's anything wrong with it."

    June 19, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. reasonablebe

    what is wrong with this guy?

    June 19, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. rrdude

    Wow. What an arrogant person (I can think of other words that better suit him). He needs to go back under the rock he crawled from under. No business even thinking about running for President. My dog(s) would be more qualified to run because there are not judgmental or prejudiced. Also it appears he doesn't know what political party he wants to be part of.

    June 19, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Sharkmann

    If being a funny guy makes him a good pres candidate, then I would vote for him.

    June 19, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Winning

    Rick Perry of the left.

    June 19, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Gopha Khurselv

    Strong words from a man that represents a state where goat felching is a varsity sport in high schools.

    June 19, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. Sue

    Very bold for a guy who wear a bolo tie and has a fairly high pitched voice.

    June 19, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. Joe

    Cool story bro

    June 19, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    There are a few comments this man made that I can't seem to get past moderation; but hey, I do have one question:

    Is Brian Schweitzer publicly passing out notes he gathered from Mitt Romney's retreat he attended this past weekend? Surely even "binders full of women" Mitt Romney ought to know better than to be associated with loose lips on the prowl.

    June 19, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. chris

    I'm sure being a democrat the press will rush to his defense and say he was on meds when he made the comments.

    June 19, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Richard Miller

    This man should be president. He has a set of balls that no one else in Washington seems to have. He was a good governor, leaving the state with budget surpluses and he was definitely not afraid of a good fight for something that he believed in.

    June 19, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Anonymous

    I would say Lindsay Graham is a pillow biter also.

    June 19, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. Jason

    Funny how CNN buries the fact that Schweitzer is a democrat half way down the page with a reference "fellow democrat Feinstien". Had he been a republican I guarantee the first sentence would have been "Former Montana Gov. ,republican Brian Schweitzer..."

    June 19, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. WTF

    So Brian Schweitzer is gay and has the hots for Eric Cantor? Can't he just go on Grindr like the rest of them, instead of using his office and the media to do dating shout-outs?

    June 19, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Silence DoGood

    I always say that there is no better endorsement of all that is liberal and progressive than a bigoted conservative with his mouth wide open and no filter engaged. People need to hear this from them so when they come around all smiling and mush mouthed at election time, they remember.

    June 19, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Observer

    Waiting for the outrage. I won't hold my breath.

    June 19, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Nils Hruch

    Do we really want a president who has a 'gaydar'? Who is predisposed to categorize people? Better than Hillary? Yes, but what does that mean? There are numerous people who would be better than Hillary. Hopefully the Democrats can come up with someone whose claim is better than the 'lesser of two evils'. With ever growing scandal list from the current administration it will be difficult for any Democrat excepting their perceived ownership of the entitled masses. If there is money influencing politics it is certainly the continued promise of entitlements to the electorate. That is something even the Founding Fathers warned would bring down the republic.

    June 19, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. John

    at least he is homest. but he won't be president

    June 19, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. areyousaying

    Yet he exploits social issues at every turn instead of talking about jobs. Those who harp on gays usually have doubts about their own sexual orientation and compensate to try to cover it up.

    June 19, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Josh B

    Wow, it took an amazingly long time to see that Schweitzer is a Democrat in reading this article. It seems to me that the very first sentence, when mentioning that he was Montana's governor would be the appropriate place to include that information.

    June 19, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. asdrel

    With members like him (presumably a friend) who needs enemies?

    June 19, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. DMarlo

    Gov. Brian Schweitzer has only said, what many Virginia's think when it comes to Eric Cantor and his sexuality. This has been a discussion topic since he has been in the public eye. I mam with Gov. Schweitzer on this one.

    June 19, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. catori Shadi

    Journalists invite you to interview, to get you to say stupid things.

    DON'T !

    Either don't go, or just think before you speak.

    This article shows that Republicans and Democrats are equally stupid.

    June 19, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. Zach

    Him and Chris Christie in a unity ticket.... would be fun to watch

    June 19, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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