Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, in his book "The Promise: President Obama, Year One," to be released May 18, quotes the president as saying that Republican opposition to the economic stimulus package "helped create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans," according to a Washington Post report on the book.
"Tea-bagging" has been used as a derogatory term for the Tea Party movement because of its sexual connotations.
Tea Party sympathizers were quick to respond. "It is insulting to have him lecture on civility while being the least civil participant," Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform said in a written statement. "Obama, get out of the gutter, wash your mouth out with soap and grow up."
White House spokesman Bill Burton responded Wednesday evening by saying he had no reason to dispute the accuracy of the quote in Alterman's book, adding that the term was not meant to be derogatory in any way.