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No Punishment Likely for Carson’s, Waters’ Tea Party Criticisms

House Democratic leaders have no plans to reprimand Congressional Black Caucus members who used anti-tea-party rhetoric at town halls and job fairs over the August recess.

“The CBC events across the country have helped shape the jobs debate in Washington,” a senior Democratic aide said Wednesday. “They have gathered unprecedented local and national coverage and have shown that House Democrats are listening to the No. 1 concern of the American people: job creation.”

Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) are at the center of the scandal. Video appeared online Tuesday night of Carson, the CBC whip, saying that some tea party members want to see African-Americans “hanging on a tree.” He was speaking at a job fair Aug. 22, just two days after Waters said at a similar event that “the tea party can go straight to hell.”

The comments have sparked outrage from the right, and the CBC’s lone Republican member, Rep. Allen West (Fla.), has threatened to quit the group if they are not condemned. Likewise, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots issued a statement demanding that Carson resign or be severely reprimanded by Democratic leaders for his remarks.

“If they refuse to take these actions, they are sending a clear statement to the American public that it is acceptable for ‘leaders’ in Congress to wantonly accuse their fellow members and the American public of desiring murder,” Meckler and Martin said.

Although Democratic aides were quick to say they don’t support the strong rhetoric, they praised the CBC’s push to host job fairs over the past two weeks in major cities including Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles. And as both parties continue to jockey for the high ground on the jobs issue, Democratic aides maintained that it’s the CBC that’s breaking through.

“There are always going to be situations when Members say something that you wish they hadn’t, but let’s look at the overall plan of what they did in August,” a Democratic strategist said Wednesday. “They’ve done numerous town halls across the country. They actually get people back to work. I don’t know how many other Democrats were holding job fairs this August.”

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