Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is not backing down about a flippant remark comparing Tea Party Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan into a fundraising message despite criticism from at least one opponent.
"Members of the Tea Party have engaged in relentless racist attacks against our African-American President," Grayson said in a statement to WKMG-TV published on Tuesday. "There is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the hood fits, wear it."
Grayson's latest fundraising email includes an image of a burning cross with the caption, "Now you know what the 'T' stands for" and a transcript of his interview on Monday with MSNBC host Al Sharpton, during which he stated that after the country lost $24 billion during the GOP-engineered government shutdown, Americans "want their money back, and the Tea Party out of their lives. At this point, the Tea Party is no more popular than the Klan."
The message was quickly rejected by Tea Party members in Grayson's region, including activist Jason Hoyt, who also insulted Sharpton.
"Alan Grayson is a disgrace to the United States Congress," Hoyt told WKMG. "I'm confident his appearance on Al Sharpton's show did nothing to change the minds of either of his television viewers."
Republican Jorge Bonilla, who is running to unseat Grayson in 2014, also blasted him for invoking the image of the Klan, telling the Orlando Sentinel he found it "despicable and needlessly hurtful to the many millions of families that still deal with the wounds of racial prejudice. What's worse, he does so for no other reason than to troll for donations for his re-election campaign."
"When the president visited my home of Orlando, Tea Party protesters shouted 'Kenyan Go Home,'" Grayson told the Sentinel. "Other examples include Tea Party chants of 'Bye Bye Blackbird' and Tea Party posters saying 'Obama's plan: White Slavery.' One could go on and on, because there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation."
[Image via MSNBC]