Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is standing by his campaign’s comparison of the tea party with the Klu Klux Klan.
On Monday, Grayson’s re-election campaign sent out a fundraising email with a picture of a burning cross, which was used as a “t” to spell out “tea party.”
“Now What You Know What The ‘T’ Stands For,” the email read.
Readers who clicked on the picture were directed to a donation page for the congressman’s re-election.
In a long statement, Grayson defended his campaign’s mailer, arguing that the tea party has a history of racism.
“Regarding the image that the campaign circulated, members of the Tea Party have engaged in relentless racist attacks against our African-American President,” Grayson said, before listing alleged racist incidents tea party members have engaged in and including a racist depiction of President Obama.
“Tea Party candidates, including my opponent in the last election, have endorsed forcing Hispanics to speak English,” he added. “One could go on and on, because there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the shoe fits, wear it.”
Jennifer Burke, national outreach director for TheTeaParty.net, slammed Grayson for the KKK-tea party comparison.
“As a black Tea Party activist, I could say that there’s nothing more offensive than equating the Tea Party with the Ku Klux Klan,” she said in a statement. “The hate speech uttered by sitting congressman Alan Grayson is deplorable, even by the low levels reached in recent years when Democrats routinely call us racists and suicide bombers.”
The tea party movement arose in response to economic issues in 2009 and, unlike the KKK, is led by a number of black leaders. The tea party has engaged in no acts of anti-black terrorism and, also unlike the KKK, was not primarily associated with the Democratic Party at its founding.
Grayson has made a name for himself in Congress by making bombastic statements. Among other things, during a previous tenure in Congress, Grayson said on the House floor that the Republican health care plan was for people to “die quickly” if they get sick.