I didn't expect anything else from them since the Republicans don't want to take any responsibility for their party whipping the Tea Party protesters into a frenzy. John Boehner, Michael Steele and Eric Cantor all tried to blow off the hateful rhetoric directed at members of Congress the previous day as isolated incidents. Sorry guys but as John said, "They aren't just a sliver of the make-up of the crowds. They ARE the crowds."
GREGORY: Let me interject a question about the tone of this debate. This was the scene on Capitol Hill yesterday where you had tea party activists protesting the vote. And in some cases it got quite ugly, where we had instances of anti-gay epithets being hurled at Congressman Frank, racist epithets, as well, hurled by protesters. Are you concerned, Leader Boehner, that the Republican Party is in any way associated with tea party activists who are among these protesters?
BOEHNER: Well, listen. There were some isolated incidents on the Hill yesterday that were reprehensible and should not have happened. But let's not let a few isolated incidents get in the way of the fact that millions of Americans are scared to death and millions of Americans want no part of this growing size of government here in Washington. We've got the best healthcare system in the world, and we're about to take this dangerous step, very dangerous step toward the government running the whole thing. That's not what the American people want.
GREGORY: ...what about the tone of the debate? I asked the leaders about this. Some of the racial epithets, anti-gay epithets among tea party activists. Is there a danger for Republicans to be associated with the tea party movement?
STEELE: Well, we're not associate--well, we're not--no, it's not a danger to be associated with the tea party movement. It is--it's certainly not a reflection of the movement or the Republican Party when you have some idiots out there saying very stupid things. So, as, as the leader said, as Leader Boehner said, that's reprehensible, we do not support that. You can have this debate without, without attacking a member of Congress personally.
GREGORY: But do you think some of your own rhetoric in the RNC, that slide show you had from your finance director vilifying the speaker and the president, talking about socialist health care. Do you think...
STEELE: Inappropriate, as I said, inappropriate, and it should not have happened. And we've dealt...
GREGORY: But what about your own fundraising letter? Does that kind of rhetoric spur activism that gets to a point of ugliness?
STEELE: Well, there's a fine line between engaging your donors and your activists to get them fired up and go out, going out and, and do for you, to raise money, etc., and saying something, as we've heard yesterday, that are racial epithets and anti-gay language. There's a very--there's a very bright line there for us to not cross. And nothing we've done or said on either side, Democrat or Republican, in the hot rhetoric of this, you know, I think comes to that. What you had out there yesterday were a handful of people who just got stupid and, and said very ignorant things. And neither party, I believe, are associated--or should be associated with that.
KARL: Let me ask you about the way your -- your leader, the Republican leader, talked about this vote just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: We're about 24 hours from Armageddon.
(UNKNOWN): You used the word "Armageddon." What did you mean by that?
BOEHNER: This health care bill will ruin our country. It's time to stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: OK, Congressman Cantor, come on. Is this bill going to ruin our country today if it passes?
CANTOR: Jonathan, what is going on from my perspective is the American people are full of fear about this bill. They see that this bill will take Medicare benefits from seniors. That's a scary thought. They see...
KARL: OK, but is this going to ruin our country?
CANTOR: Jonathan, it is about the fear. There is a better way, but that -- that's what's going on.
KARL: But I'm asking a specific question. I mean, we heard from the Republican leader in the House say that this is Armageddon, it's going to ruin the country. We have the vote tonight.
CANTOR: This is a bad bill that people are frightened -- they're frightened that they're losing their jobs right now, and here we're going to tax small businesses to the tune of $2,000 per job? You've got...
KARL: Does that ruin the country?
CANTOR: You've got folks -- you've got families thinking, how are we going to pay for the trillion-dollar debt that is going to occur from this bill alone? And how are our children going to pay for it?
What it is, Jonathan, it is about trying to attack the American ideal. That's what's going on with this bill. People are beginning to think they won't have the life that they've had for their children. That's what's going on. And I think that's...
LARSON: ... Social Security. I respect the fact that they want to...
CANTOR: Come on.
LARSON: That's true.
LARSON: Here's the thing. Here's the thing. Everybody ought to ratchet back just a little bit. And when you have two members of Congress, two respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus spat on and hurled epithets that were just...
KARL: Racial epithets.
LARSON: ... that were horrible, horrible.
CANTOR: Jonathan -- Jonathan, nobody...
CANTOR: ... nobody condones that at all. There were 30,000 people here in Washington yesterday. And, yes, there were some very awful things said.
CANTOR: But, I mean, come on. Nobody condones that kind of...
KARL: Is it time to ratchet it back a little bit...
LARSON: ... ratchet it back.
CANTOR: You know -- you know what it is time for? It's time to listen to the American people, and that is the stunning thing about this. You know, John said that there -- there will be some members who will lose their seat. This is a legacy vote; there's no question about it.
LARSON: It is.
CANTOR: It's a legacy vote...
KARL: On that note of agreement, we are -- we are out of time.
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