Vice President Joe Biden came to the defense of his political foes in the tea party movement on Sunday, saying the group is "not a racist organization."
The views of the mainly white, anti-tax movement came under attack this month when the prominent African-American civil rights group, the NAACP, passed a resolution urging the tea party to "repudiate its racist elements."
Asked on ABC's "This Week" whether he believes that elements of the tea party are "racist," Biden replied that "some of the tea party folks expressed racist views" according to footage of protests he had seen on television.
"There are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things, their protests — that have expressed really unfortunate comments," Biden said.
"But I don't think — I wouldn't characterize the tea party as racist," he said.
"The president doesn't believe that the tea party is a racist organization. I don't believe that. Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization."
The tea party movement, a grass-roots revolt against Obama administration economic and health reform policies, has electrified the Republican Party base.
Taking its name from a revolt against British rule in colonial Boston in 1773, the group is now a powerful force in nominating Republicans for November's election.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has posted on its website a six-part pledge to support equal rights and diversity.
Below the pledge, in a section titled "Don't Let Hate Divide America," it shows photos of protests, some of which show white people carrying signs that liken Obama to a monkey and one that reads, "Obama is a destructive unpatriotic black Muslim."
© AFP 2013