07/20/2010 02:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Steny Hoyer: 'I Don't Know Who The Tea Party Is'

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Tuesday that he doesn't think the Tea Party is racist and that he doesn't even know who exactly the Tea Party is.

"I don't know who the Tea Party is" he said, in response to a reporter's question about Vice President Joe Biden's comment that the Tea Party is not racist. "The Tea Party per se I don't think is racist... As I said on Sunday, I have seen some virulent racist tracts which I believe are harmful to public discourse and inconsistent with America's values. You'd have to ask the Tea Party if they agree with that... I don't have any reason to believe that the Tea Party itself is racist."

Hoyer was more forthcoming about particular incidents, such as the billboard created and paid for by an Iowa Tea Party that compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. "I think that's not useful or helpful to the public debate," he said.