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Tea Partiers Grapple with Image Problem

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Tea party activists are struggling with the fallout from reports that some members spewed racial and homophobic slurs during this past weekend's health care reform protests.

Reports indicate that tea partyers in Washington, D.C. shouted "fa**ot" at Rep. Barney Frank and called Rep. John Lewis a "ni**er" as the lawmakers walked outside the Capitol. There are also reports that tea partyers spat on lawmakers.

The accounts could prove problematic for the tea party movement, according to Politico.com.

"While the thousands of tea partiers who thronged the Capitol grounds on short notice in advance of Sunday's House health care vote were proof of the movement's continuing energy, their impact was undercut by accounts of racist and homophobic epithets directed at Democratic lawmakers by a handful of individuals among this weekend's crowd," reports Politico.com.

In addition to public image, the incidents seem to have sparked an internal debate on the right, with GOP leaders denouncing the slurs while some tea party activists say that media and lawmakers fabricated the incidents.

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