Former President Bill Clinton warned Friday that the anger some members of the Tea Party movement express about higher taxes and the size of government could feed the same right-wing extremism that led to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.
"Before the bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America," Clinton said at a symposium commemorating the 15th anniversary of the bombing. "Meanwhile, the fabric of American life had been unraveling. More and more people who had a hard time figuring out where they fit in, it is true that we see some of that today."
The loosely organized Tea Party movement burst onto the scene last year with thousands of Americans protesting financial bailouts and what they saw as too much government spending. Since then, the movement has become increasingly political as members are choosing candidates across the country aligned with their conservative views against lawmakers they want to defeat in the November elections.
On Friday, Clinton appeared to draw implicit parallels between Tea Partiers -- who are accused by some critics of espousing racist and radical views -- and the far-right militia veterans that carried out the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
"This Tea Party movement can be a healthy thing if they're making us justify every penny of taxes we raised and every dollar of public money we spend," Clinton said. "But when you get mad, sometimes you wind up producing exactly the reverse result of what you say you are for."
The Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil until the Sept. 11 attacks. Bomber Timothy McVeigh was convicted on federal murder and conspiracy charges and executed in 2001. Co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving life in prison on federal and state bombing convictions.