Tea Partiers give tax-and-spend protests a rest, call for Reid’s ouster over “Negro dialect” remarksby George Bennett | January 12th, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE — Venturing outside their traditional milieu of tax-and-spending protests, about a dozen Tea Party activists and sympathizers stood at a street corner today to call for the ouster of Senate Majority Leader and amateur racial dialect theorist Harry Reid.
The event, billed as a “rally” Monday night and then bumped down to “news conference” status this afternoon, seemed to fall outside the South Florida Tea Party organization’s stated mission of promoting “three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.”
Not exactly, organizers said.
“The way we’re looking at it, this is kind of a corruption issue,” said South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson, who did not attend today’s event. He said the coalescing of Democratic Senators behind Reid illustrates the “back-room deals” that bloat the budget.
“It’s a bit different than what we’ve done in the past,” conceded Chad Lincoln, a coordinator with the group. “This deals with the very heart of the leadership of our government.”
Critics have made much of the predominantly white Tea Party movement heaping scorn on the policies of America’s first black president.
“We’re often labeled as being racists. But let me tell you, there isn’t a racist bone in our bodies,” Lincoln said. Lincoln said he expected unnamed Democratic elected officials and blacks to attend the event, but none were in evidence.
Lincoln called Reid “a professed racist.”
Reid has been under fire since a new book about the 2008 presidential campaign revealed that Reid once enthused about Barack Obama’s prospects as a “light-skinned” candidate “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
Reid has apologized and Obama and leading Democrats have said they accept his apology.
Broward County Republican Chairman Chip LaMarca, who attended today’s event, noted that many Republicans called for former GOP Majority Leader Trent Lott to step down in 2002 after Lott, speaking at a 100th birthday party for longtime South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, suggested America would have been better off if then-segregationist Thurmond had been elected president as a Dixiecrat in 1948.
Lott apologized but soon stepped down as Senate leader.
“I think this is actually worse,” LaMarca said of Reid’s remarks. “We had a former leader trying to be nice to a man on his 100th birthday.”