Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson doubled down his extremely provocative rhetoric on Wednesday, in the days after his campaign sent out a fundraising email with an image likening the tea party to the Klan that showed two Klansmen in the background with a burning cross used as the “t” in “tea party.”
However, Grayson took his tea party-KKK comparison another step further and said the tea party engaged in hate speech, racism, discrimination, bigotry and in some case even threats of violence.
“I think the tea party should expel those members who engage in hate speech,” Grayson said to an unidentified reporter with Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV. “So many members of the tea party have engaged in hate speech against the president, against the first lady, against numerous members of the Congress and against me. And we could give you examples of that.”
“I’m calling them out for their hate,” Grayson continued. “That’s not wrong. That needs to be done. It’s the only way to end it.”
WFTV asked Grayson if perhaps this was a step too far, to use the extreme imagery, but the Florida Democrat pushed back.
“No, it doesn’t go too far because the essence of both unfortunately is an undue openness to racism, to bigotry, to prejudice,” he continued. “In fact generations ago, the KKK was the home of that sentiment and all too often today we see the tea party being the home of that sentiment.”
Grayson was also asked if the comparison was unfair since the KKK would use violence and that the tea party has shown signs of using violent measures. According to Grayson, they haven’t yet but the presence of certain weapons at presidential events.
“Not yet,” he replied. “You may recall that there were people that brought automatic weapons to president’s speeches. What were they trying to convey? They were members of the tea party.”
When asked if his campaign’s email may have been offensive to African Americans who aren’t involved in any sort of tea party activities, Grayson said he had received words of encouragement from a fellow African-American member of Congress.
“I will tell you an African-American member of Congress came to me less than 20 minutes ago and told me that he thought I was entirely right and that what I said was the words of God,” Grayson added. “So you tell me — who’s right, who’s wrong?”