Rep. Steve King of Iowa sought to downplay Tea Partyers' use of
antigay and racial slurs against lawmakers Saturday, saying that he does
think the comments, which included calling Congressman Barney Frank a
"fa**ot," are a big deal.
Protesters against health care reform heckled and spat at lawmakers outside the Capitol on Saturday, directing racist and antigay slurs toward lawmakers including Frank and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an African-American and leader of the civil rights movement.
King, a prominent voice in the Tea Party movement who last year called marriage equality part of a socialist agenda, told Roll Call that this past weekend's incidents were isolated.
"I just don't think it's anything," said King. "There are a lot of places in this country that I couldn't walk through. I wouldn't live to get to the other end of it."
The message from King contradicted the Republican leadership, which denounced the slurs on Sunday. Party chairman Michael Steele and House minority leader John Boehner both appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and described the incidents as "reprehensible."