Biden: Tea Party isn’t racist

Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday said the conservative Tea Party movement is not racist, but noted that “elements” of the group have expressed racist views.

“I wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“There are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things — their protests — that have expressed really unfortunate comments,” Biden added.

“But I don’t believe, the president doesn’t believe, that the Tea Party is — is a racist organization. I don’t believe that. Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization,” Biden said.

The question of racism in the conservative movement gained new prominence last week when the NAACP passed a resolution calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate racist elements within their ranks.

That prompted attacks from several prominent Republicans, who called it an unfair smear on the movement, which is deeply hostile to President Obama’s policies. Racist signs have appeared at some Tea Party rallies.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous defended the resolution on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, noting that several episodes led to the group’s action.

“Folks looked around the country. They saw a person running down South, running as a write-in candidate for governor, stating that they didn’t want people of color in this country, period, claiming broad Tea Party support,” he said in noting one example.

But David Webb — the co-founder of the New York group TeaParty365 who is active in the broader Tea Party movement — said the movement is being wrongly portrayed.

“If you look selectively, you ... can find single examples in any movement,” he said on the CBS show, citing “fringe elements.” He added that some figures that Tea Party critics point to have been denounced or pushed out of the movement.