A day after they screamed racist and anti-gay slurs at members of Congress, U.S. Rep. John Culberson, a Republican from Houston, praised Tea Party protesters as being “polite and respectful.” According to Media Matters, Culberson’s comments can be heard as he narrates the above video, which he reportedly shot yesterday from the steps of the Capitol. But Culberson wasn’t alone in defending the Tea Party protesters and trying to downplay their hateful actions. From Roll Call:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a leading voice in the tea party movement, said Sunday that protesters’ recent use of racial and homophobic slurs toward Members of Congress was no big deal.
“I just don’t think it’s anything,” King said, emphasizing that the incidents were isolated. “There are a lot of places in this country that I couldn’t walk through. I wouldn’t live to get to the other end of it.”
To focus on a few incidents is “embellishing something that is determined to undermine the people,” said the Iowa conservative.
King’s remarks come a day after tea party protesters spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and shouted a racial slur at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); both are African-American. A protester also shouted a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is openly gay.
Another Republican lawmaker also brushed off the racial epithets and suggested they were prompted by the parliamentary maneuvers being used by Democrats to pass a health care bill.
“When you use a totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Sunday on C-SPAN. “I think that people have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it.”
Nunes added that the slurs were “not appropriate” but that he would “stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people protesting, that all of them were doing that.”
Update: A member of the Texas delegation is also suspected of yelling “baby killer” at Rep. Bart Stupak during last night’s debate, but The Dallas Morning News has been unable to determine who was responsible. Culberson has reportedly denied responsibility.
UPDATE NO. 2: Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from Lubbock, has admitted to the “baby killer” remark and apologized, The DMN reports. Neugebauer has issued an apology:
“Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase ‘it’s a baby killer’ in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself. I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”