Keith Ellison says, yep, there's "extreme racists" in the tea party
The Republicans, led by Michele Bachmann, are trying to figure out how to co-opt tea partiers, and the Democrats said yesterday they're happy to let the Republicans do it. You want to stand with folks determined to end Medicare, privatize Social Security, repeal health care reform, let Wall Street run wild and apologize to BP for getting our water in their oil, you go right ahead.
And then there's the matter of racism and Nazis.
"I think there have been some individuals associating themselves with the tea party that have expressed extreme racist views and I think the tea party as a movement should disavow those people," Rep. Keith Ellison said at the press conference. "If they don't disavow it, they're going to be associated with it."
And then the link to the GOP: "There is no doubt that the Republican Party and the Tea Party cause have been fused."
In fairness, that's already happened in at east one high-profile case: The National Tea Party Federation kicked the Tea Party Express to the curb after its leader thought he was being funny when he penned a racist rant calling NAACP president Benjamin Jealous "Tom's nephew and NAACP head colored person."
What's wrong with that, Joe Wierzbicki wanted to know? Well, plenty.
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also drew attention to the Nazi imagery seen at tea party protests around the country, and said she couldn't understand why the Republicans would want to stand next to that particular stench.
"From my own observation, I think there are racist elements among people who affiliate with the tea party. To the degree that the Republicans have embraced wholeheartedly the tea party movement, they risk absorbing those characteristics as well," she said.
The GOP response: Hey, those Democrats just aren't listening to the voters.
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