For the most part, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) defended tea partiers at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon Thursday, however, he noted that there were some "anarchists" in the movement that wanted to destroy government.
The Ohio Republican said that Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had not gotten his permission before starting her new "Tea Party caucus" and indicated that he had no intention to join.
"I haven't joined caucuses for a long time," said Boehner. "It's just a policy we decided. You get labeled and I have just not been in any caucus. I don't know how many years it's been. At least 10, maybe longer."
The Minority Leader was asked if Republicans were in danger of becoming too closely identified with the Tea Party. He replied with a warning that there were some violent elements in the movement while offering a defense of it.
"I don't spend but a couple of weekends a year in DC Every weekend, I'm either in my district or I'm somewhere out in America and I've been to my share of Tea Party events," he said.
"Let me tell you about these events. Yep, there are some disaffected Republicans there. There are always some Democrats there. Always a couple of anarchists who want to kill all of us in public office," Boehner continued.
"But I'll tell you this. 75 percent of these people who show up at these events are the most average everyday Americans you have ever met. None of whom have ever been involved in the political process. And I would guess, half of whom have probably have never voted," said Boehner.
"Now think about this. These people have been driven off their couch. They've been driven off their easy chair. Driven away from their TV and into the streets of America to demonstrate against their own government. Now, people can dismiss this. They can laugh at them. They can mock them like some of my colleagues across the aisle have been doing but I'm going to tell you what. These folks are the tip of the iceberg," he explained.
"We should listen to them. We should work with them. We should walk amongst them," Boehner concluded.
At Think Progress, William Tomasko blogs, "Before Boehner tries to dismiss the violent 'anarchists' as a rogue element, he should remember how prominent Republicans have sought to marshal those violent attitudes."
Referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in March, RNC Chairman Michael Steele announced on Fox News: Ã¢â‚¬Å“LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November.Ã¢â‚¬Â Fox News contributor Sarah Palin directed her fans to Ã¢â‚¬Å“reloadÃ¢â‚¬Â against Democratic candidates in 2010.
At the same time in March, Boehner himself appeared to be encouraging the anger behind the violence: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Violence and threats are unacceptable. That is not the American wayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I know thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s anger, but letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s take that anger and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s do it the right way.Ã¢â‚¬Â Rep. Tom Perriello, whose family was threatened and harassed after he voted for health care reform, called BoehnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement Ã¢â‚¬Å“fairly outrageous,Ã¢â‚¬Â saying those who threaten violence Ã¢â‚¬Å“need to be prosecuted, not brought into the campaign room.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This video is from The Christian Science Monitor, broadcast July 22, 2010.