Tags: Tea Party | msnbc | supremacists | scalise | gop | louisiana

Chris Matthews: Tea Party Lawmakers 'Not That Far' From Racists

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 09:26 AM

Tea Party Republicans aren't all that much different from white supremacist organizations like the one that invited now-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to speak to one of its conferences, or from that group's founder, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews said on his show Tuesday.

"How do you think [Texas Republican Rep.] Louie Gohmert feels toward David Duke?" Matthews said during a panel discussion on his show. "How do we know? What do you think of [Florida Republican Rep. Ted] Yoho, and that crowd?

"These guys believe [President Barack Obama] was somehow an illegal immigrant from Africa because they can’t stand the fact that he’s an African-American president. Let’s be honest about it — they’re not that far from the crowd they refuse to associate with."

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Duke, originally a Democrat, became a Republican who served in the Louisiana Legislature and won 55 percent of the white vote in a 1991 gubernatorial bid. He also ran for the Senate as a Republican.

Tuesday's MSNBC discussion, which included Huffington Post reporter Sabrina Siddiqui, Salon editor Joan Walsh, and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, concerned Scalise's chances of remaining in a leadership role in the House after he admitted speaking to the group, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, in 2002.

Walsh, quoting White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, said that years ago, Scalise introduced himself to a reporter as being "David Duke, without the baggage."

The reporter, Stephanie Grace of The New Orleans Advocate, wrote about her exchange with Scalise on Monday, saying that he "may have been naïve about how to express himself to a newcomer, but he was already a savvy politician who knew that, even though Duke had lost the governor’s race a few years earlier, Duke voters were still around. And those Duke voters also were potential Scalise voters."

"He’s still got the baggage," Matthews said on his show Tuesday, agreeing with Siddiqui that the connection will hurt Scalise and other Republicans as well.

And Steele agreed that the GOP leaders should be worried about Scalise going forward, as his association with the group "knocks down the messaging," Steele said. "It takes down a notch the conversation that you want to have."

"This isn’t the minority group they were looking to reach out to, was it?" Matthews said.

Duke himself has been appearing on several news shows to address the Scalise flap, including on CNN Saturday night, where he told host Michael Smerconish that he would "name names" of any Democrat or Republican who "tried, in fact, urged me to support them" if the pressure isn't lifted from Scalise.

Duke also told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly Tuesday that he is not a white supremacist, and that he could not confirm whether Scalise spoke at his group's conference but was on the schedule to do so.

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Tea Party Republicans aren't all that much different from white supremacist groups like the one that invited now-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to speak, or from that group's founder, Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews said Tuesday.
msnbc, supremacists, scalise, gop, louisiana
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2015-26-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 09:26 AM
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