WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans haven't exactly minced words when when criticizing top Democrats in the federal government, with many of their attacks directed at President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Even though she's no longer speaker of the House, Pelosi continues to be one of the most unpopular figures among Republicans.
But according to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), the attacks on Obama and Pelosi came in spite of advice given to rank-and-file members by the GOP leadership.
"[The GOP leadership] have the desire to defeat Obama. I have a profound disagreement with some of them on how we do that. They think that we do it by being nice," Gohmert told right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh in an interview published in the January edition of "The Limbaugh Letter."
He continued, "In fact, after Nancy Pelosi became Speaker, we were told, 'She's the first female speaker of the House, so whether we like it or not, we've got to handle this with kid gloves. Don't go after Speaker Pelosi. You can go after other people, but you'll be branded as mean and evil if you go after the first female Speaker of the House.'"
Gohmert said despite those warnings, he and others "didn't let up." The same thing happened when Obama was elected.
"We were told behind the scenes, 'Look, if you go after the president you're going to be called a racist, you're going to be called everything in the book,'" he added.
Gohmert invoked the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to explain why Republican members were right to attack the first female speaker of the House and the first African-American president.
"I don't care what gender someone is, or what race they are. Those things don't matter to me," he said. "Whether you're president or speaker, if you're wrong, we need to stand up and point it out. That's what Martin Luther King had talked about: being judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. So some of us pounded away on some of the ridiculous policies of Pelosi -- and lo and behold, over time, the public began to see."
House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) did not return a request for comment.