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. Obvious

    It's OK. He's a Democrat. Democrats get to say whatever they want. It's only a problem if a Republican says it. Then, it is GIANT SCREAMING FONT HEADLINES EVERYWHERE!

    June 19, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. sly

    Montana. Say no more. Between Idaho, Arizona and Montana you're going to get a whole lot of hillbillies.

    If this was the south, this man would be a TeaKKKlan, but, just a dumb hillbillie from a state no one could find on a map.

    June 19, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Before rs does the same thing and brands this dude a republican, and I know this was tough to find in the article, Mr. Schweitzer is a democrat."

    Why not allow rs to comment first before you throw out your bomb shells, tom I?

    June 19, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. srcactus

    Politician= engages mouth before brain!

    June 19, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. smith1

    former governor. That's the key . Never let this clown back into politics. Im surprised the repos don't want him. He would fit right in. Maybe it is just a southern thing? like stupid.

    June 19, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. critical thinking

    Say what you mean and mean what you say and let the voters decide. There is way tooooooo much pandering in politics. At least this guy says what he thinks, instead of saying what he knows everyone wants to hear.

    June 19, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. ChillinOne

    effeminate and South? Nah. This guy doesn't have a clue. Ever been north of Virginia? I am pretty sure there are effeminate males and masculine females all over this country. Unfortunately that is becoming more and more accepted and tolerated. Gay or not, a man should know how to turn a wrench and a woman should be able to walk in heels. Doesn't mean they have to do it all the time, but they should know how to if the need arises. Politics in the US are a complete joke. They have no idea what is going on with the general public. Absolutely no idea.

    June 19, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Mike Smith-Really

    Another politician hypocrite. Shocking.

    June 19, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. jim

    Funny how this stuff is spread equally between the pols of these parties but the mind-numb robots see one party as the, 'stupid party.'

    June 19, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. Independant Voter

    You know, I thought the same thing. But, I am not on the national stage. Somethings for either party should stay as thoughts and not words. DUH !!!

    June 19, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Bill

    He fits right in with the intolerant left.

    June 19, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. street smart

    So the guy thinks hes gay, whats wrong with thinking that?

    June 19, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Jim in PA

    Wow. Slamming Eric Cantor AND Dianne Feinstein? He's got my vote.

    June 19, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. rosethornne

    Most of the people what WANT to be elected to public office are the last people who SHOULD be elected to public office.

    June 19, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. clouseau2

    1) What he said is true. I love Jon Stewart's impression of "Miss" [Senator] Lindsey Graham, it's always good for a laugh. 2) He's a former governor that I've never heard of. Who cares what he says, whether he's a Democrat or Republican. 3) What Rick Perry says about gays is actually offensive and he's the CURRENT governor of the second most populated state and could actually win the GOP nomination for President although I don't think America is ready for a President more dim than Bush II. 4) Before you start bashing me, I married my husband last year once it became legal in California.

    June 19, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Van

    You can say anything if your a Democrat. They call you everything in the book and sling hate around and defend joikers like this.

    June 19, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. hohotai

    @Obvious, it appears that you obviously missed the headline of this very article, which points out how both Republicans and Democrats have criticized Schweitzer for his comments. Focus, dude.

    June 19, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Kevin

    Agree with his comments on Feinstein, but come on, this is juvenile. Disappointing.

    June 19, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Dude is a democrat. And yeah. He's toast politically
    Good morning babe! I'm starting to see occasional "daylight" over here.
    Yes I noticed that he was a Democrat.
    They have dummies too and he confirms it.
    See ya when I can see ya.

    June 19, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Bobbo

    Everyone is a target against Hillary - even their own kind (Democrats).

    June 19, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. BrianKeith86

    People need to understand that sexuality and gender roles are a spectrum. There are very masculine straight men and effeminate straight men. There are very masculine gay men and very effeminate gay men. The same goes for women as well. People need to stop assuming what sexual orientation is based off manneurisms. It's way off base. It's also no one's business in the first place.

    June 19, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    That quote is so country that I cannot tell you what it means, which doesn't mean that I'm asking, either.

    June 19, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. K-Billy's Super Sounds of the Seventies

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

    June 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Mike500

    Sly, I am perfectly confident that you couldn't find Montana on a map.

    June 19, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |

    Oh well, I see the "wound collectors" are still out here posting their dark room, unemployed thoughts.

    June 19, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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