DES MOINES, Iowa — A billboard created by an Iowa tea party group that compares President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is drawing sharp criticism – even from fellow tea party activists who have condemned it as offensive and a waste of money.
The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the billboard in downtown Mason City last week. The sign shows large photographs of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin beneath the labels “Democrat Socialism,” “National Socialism,” and “Marxist Socialism.”
Beneath the photos is the phrase, “Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive.”
The co-founder of the roughly 200-person group said the billboard was intended to send an anti-socialist message. But Bob Johnson admitted Tuesday that the message may have gotten lost amid the images of fascist and communist leaders.
“The purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism. It seems to have been lost in the visuals,” Johnson said. “The pictures overwhelmed the message. The message is socialism.” He said he didn’t know of any plans to remove the sign.
But others in the tea party movement criticized the sign.
“That’s just a waste of money, time, resources and it’s not going to further our cause,” said Shelby Blakely, a leaders of the Tea Party Patriots, a national group. “It’s not going to help our cause. It’s going to make people think that the tea party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people, and that’s not true.”