Rep. Steve Cohen is the latest public official to suggest Tea Party supporters have a racist agenda, telling an Internet radio show last week that the activists have shown a "hardcore angry side" of the country, only "without robes and hoods."
On a program called "The Young Turks" on Thursday, the Democratic Tennessee congressman said Tea Party groups show "opposition to African Americans, hostility toward gays, hostility to anybody who wasn't just a clone of George Wallace's fan club." Wallace is the late former Alabama governor, and presidential candidate, well-known for opposing desegregation.
Cohen's comments came after other lawmakers accused Tea Party activists of hurling racial slurs at black representatives on Capitol Hill during an anti-health care reform bill protest last month.
Cohen, in his interview, went on to say that some Republicans are "afraid" to stand up to Tea Party backers. He said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., seemed uncomfortable when his former running mate, Sarah Palin, was campaigning for him last month.
"He looked more like a captured soldier in North Vietnam than he did a United States senator," Cohen said, in reference to the time McCain spent as a prisoner of war. "It was very sad and, I tell you, his wife Cindy, she was about ready to just drop dead."