MSNBC host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough counseled the incoming class of tea party legislators not to abuse their new-found powers, jesting that they might scare young children and animals.
Scarborough recalled to Parade magazine when the new Republican Congress of 1995 tried to trample a weakened President Bill Clinton and ended up paying the price for “overreaching” and appearing “shrill.”
“If Republicans overreach in 2011, they will re-elect Barack Obama in 2012,” he said. “They need to focus but make sure they don’t scare little kids and pets. This is the Republican Party’s last chance—not just for me but for the American voters. They will either mean what they say or be swept aside.”
The 112th Congress will be sworn in Wednesday, and dozens of newly elected, tea party-backed Republicans are hoping to flex their muscle after campaigning vigorously against the Obama administration. Republicans will have a 241-194 majority in the House of Representatives, while Democrats maintain a slimmer 53-47 majority in the Senate.
Scarborough, who represented Florida’s 1st district from 1995 to 2001, continues to embrace his Republican affiliation, but has been more outspoken than colleagues in criticizing what he considers fringe elements in his party.
The rage of tea party supporters has been on full display during the last year and a half, as conservative activists fed up with Democratic governance have done everything from yell at lawmakers in town halls, shout at disease victims, and even reportedly spit on a congressman.
The host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” ruffled feathers among the conservative base weeks ago with a fierce op-ed in Politico criticizing Sarah Palin as unelectable and urging the Republican Party to “man up” and publicly air their doubts about her.
“I just know she’s not qualified to be president,” Scarborough told Parade. “By the way, I don’t think she’s going to run. I don’t think it was a coincidence that a lot of that presidential talk came when she was releasing her book.”