King Downplays Protesters’ Racial Slurs Against Congressmen

Posted March 21, 2010 at 12:52pm

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a leading voice in the tea party movement, said Sunday that protesters’ recent use of racial and homophobic slurs toward Members of Congress was no big deal.

“I just don’t think it’s anything,” King said, emphasizing that the incidents were isolated. “There are a lot of places in this country that I couldn’t walk through. I wouldn’t live to get to the other end of it.”

To focus on a few incidents is “embellishing something that is determined to undermine the people,” said the Iowa conservative.

King’s remarks come a day after tea party protesters spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and shouted a racial slur at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); both are African-American. A protester also shouted a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is openly gay.

Another Republican lawmaker also brushed off the racial epithets and suggested they were prompted by the parliamentary maneuvers being used by Democrats to pass a health care bill.

“When you use a totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Sunday on C-SPAN. “I think that people have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it.”

Nunes added that the slurs were “not appropriate” but that he would “stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people protesting, that all of them were doing that.”

Tea party protesters have flooded the Capitol grounds in recent days in protest of health care reform. On Sunday morning, organizers directed protesters gathered outside the Capitol to get gallery passes and flood the building for the day.

King was among a handful of GOP Members firing up protesters on the Capitol steps Saturday evening to help block passage of the bill. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told the crowd to “remember the Alamo” and that the only difference between that fight and the health care fight is that “if we lose this battle, millions of Americans are going to die.”