Political Notebook

Biden says Tea Party is not racist

President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia returned to the White House after weekending in Maine. President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia returned to the White House after weekending in Maine. (Kristoffer Tripplaar/Getty Images)
Associated Press / July 19, 2010

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The Tea Party movement is not racist, Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday, though he believes that some Tea Partiers have expressed racist views.

“Very conservative, very different views on government and a whole lot of things,’’ Biden said during an interview broadcast on ABC’s “This Week.’’ “But it is not a racist organization.’’

President Obama doesn’t think so, either, Biden said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People approved a resolution last week calling on Tea Party activists and others to “repudiate the racist element and activities’’ within the political movement.

The movement’s organizers say racism does not have any place in their activities. Critics have pointed to signs and other actions at the organization’s gatherings as evidence of racist elements.

In defending the National Tea Party Federation, spokesman David Webb said yesterday the coalition of local and regional Tea Party groups has expelled the Tea Party Express from its ranks for refusing to remove its spokesman, conservative talk radio host Mark Williams, after he posted a blog that satirized the NAACP and referred to its president, Benjamin Jealous, as “Tom’s nephew and NAACP head colored person.’’

The blog post was “clearly offensive,’’ Webb said.

“Self-policing is the right and the responsibility of any movement or organization,’’ Webb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.’’

In the ABC interview, Biden also said he thinks House Democrats will keep control after the fall elections. That cheery prediction contrasted with the dour appraisal last weekend by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who said there are enough seats in play to put Republicans back in power. Gibbs backtracked quickly and said he didn’t think the GOP would get a majority, but it didn’t ease the criticism that flew his way.

Republicans face a high wall to achieve the net gain of 40 or so seats needed to take back the 435-member House.


S.C. upstart pushes jobs in 1st speech of Senate bid
In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina’s surprising US Senate candidate, Alvin Greene, received applause yesterday with exhortations to improve education and fight unemployment.

Greene started his speech in his hometown of Manning, S.C., by citing job loss statistics and the state’s dismal rankings in standardized tests. He has not made an appearance since his unexpected June 8 primary win over a former judge and state lawmaker who had the full backing of the Democratic party.

Greene suggested that infrastructure projects put on hold after Sept. 11, 2001, could be restarted, such as an interstate from Michigan to the South Carolina coast.

Greene will face US Senator Jim DeMint, a Republican, and Tom Clements, a Green Party candidate, in November.


Obamas jet home after active vacation in Maine
President Obama and his family returned to Washington from Maine yesterday after an energetic weekend vacation along the Atlantic coast.

The president, Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha boarded a small military jet serving as Air Force One and took off from the Bar Harbor airport, returning to the White House by midday. The Obamas spent much of their time hiking and biking in Acadia National Park. The first family plans more traveling this summer. Malia, 12, is headed to summer camp for the first time. Residents of Martha’s Vineyard are wondering if the Obamas will spend part of August on the island, as they did last summer.