The Tea Party as a whole is not racist, but racism has been expressed at Tea Party events, says Vice President Joe Biden.
ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Biden Sunday if he believed there were racist elements in the Tea Party.
“The truth is that at least elements that were involved with some of the Tea Party folks expressed racist views. We saw that on television,” Biden said. “But I wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist.”
The vice president continued, “There are individuals … who are on the periphery of their things have expressed unfortunate comments. It was all over TV, your network — black congressman walking up the stairs of the capitol…. I don’t believe, the president doesn’t believe that the Tea Party is a racist organization. We don’t believe that. Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization.”
Biden was responding to a furious war of words between the NAACP and members of the Tea Party movement. Some tea partiers have called on the IRS to end the NAACP’s tax-exempt status after the group drew up a motion condemning “racism within the Tea Party movement.”
Defenders of the Tea Party movement have come to the group’s aid in the controversy. On Thursday, Fox News host Sean Hannity said his network “can’t find any” evidence of racist signs at Tea Party rallies — despite a plethora of evidence on the Internet that suggests otherwise.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declined Sunday to comment on the matter.
When asked about racism in the Tea Party by CNN’s Candy Crowley, McConnell responded, “Oh my goodness — in the whole country, is there racism? … “I’m not interested in getting into that debate,” he said. “There are all kinds of things in America that make me uncomfortable, both on the right and the left.”
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast July 18, 2010.