During a lunch with reporters yesterday, when asked about Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) new Tea Party Caucus, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) offered a rather candid assessment of the Tea Party, acknowledging that some of their activists are violent “anarchists“:
BOEHNER: I’ve been to my share of tea party events. … Let me tell you about these events. Yeah, there’s some disaffected Republicans there. There are always some Democrats there. Always a couple of anarchists who want to kill all of us in public office. But I’ll tell you this: 75 percent of the people who show up at these events are the most average, everyday Americans you’ve ever met. … As I said earlier this year, we should listen to them, we should work with them, and we should walk amongst them.
Watch the full exchange:
In April, a New York Times and CBS News poll found self-identified Tea Party members are more likely than the general public to justify violence against the government.
Before Boehner tries to dismiss the violent “anarchists” as a rogue element, he should remember how prominent Republicans have sought to marshal those violent attitudes. Referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in March, RNC Chairman Michael Steele announced on Fox News: “Let’s start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November.” Fox News contributor Sarah Palin directed her fans to “reload” against Democratic candidates in 2010.
Amid the outpouring of vandalism and death threats against Democratic lawmakers when health care reform passed, ThinkProgress compiled a video of GOP members of Congress’ extreme, violent rhetoric on the issue.
At the same time in March, Boehner himself appeared to be encouraging the anger behind the violence: “Violence and threats are unacceptable. That is not the American way… I know there’s anger, but let’s take that anger and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and let’s do it the right way.” Rep. Tom Perriello, whose family was threatened and harassed after he voted for health care reform, called Boehner’s statement “fairly outrageous,” saying those who threaten violence “need to be prosecuted, not brought into the campaign room.”