POLITICS

Trash Talking Mounts In Tea Party Debate (VIDEO)

05/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Produced by HuffPost's Citizen Reporting Team

During a Tea Party protest in DC last weekend during the health care reform vote on Capitol Hill, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) was reportedly spat on by a protester and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga) was called a 'ni--er.'

Since voting yes on the health care bill, Congressman Bart Stupak has received threatening phone calls, which he released to news outlets. After a Tea Party activist mistakenly posted the address of Rep. Tom Periello's brother on the Internet, believing it to be the congressman's address, someone cut the gas line to that house. Rep. James Clyburn (D-Mo) has been receiving faxes with what he calls "racial slurs, nooses on gallows, and I'm telling you, some very vicious language."

Here is video of the spitting:

The left contends that such behavior demonstrates that much of the movement as inherently racist and violent. The right maintains that characterizing the entire Tea Party in such a way amounts to a "smear campaign."

On March 24, Sean Hannity opined to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann that the left's outrage at these slurs is nothing but "an attempt to smear an entire movement -- the Tea Party Movement."

"They're trying to smear people who disagree with the bill," Bachmann agreed. She also admitted that she receives threats too, but doesn't publicize them because that would just "fan the flames... we just don't publicize that. That's happened to other colleagues as well."

In response to the uproar, Eric Odom, who runs Tea Party groups like Liberty First PAC and Patriot Caucus, posted a YouTube video complaining of harassing voicemails he has received from the left and offering an apology of sorts.

"People need to understand that this is not the general movement that's doing this." Odom's colleague Steve Foley, who is also on the video, chimes in to say that whoever spat on or verbally attacked a congressman are "a couple of fringe people. There's fringe people all over the place."

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