Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) stayed out of the debate over whether there are racist elements in the Tea Party movement, saying he had better things to worry about -- namely, GOP efforts in the midterm elections.
"Oh my goodness -- in the whole country is there racism?" McConnell responded when asked by CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley if there was racism in the movement, as charged by the NAACP.
"I'm not interested in getting into that debate," the leader said. "...There are all kinds of things in America that make me uncomfortable, both on the right and the left."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was asked on the same program if the Tea Party "condones" racism.
"I think there are some members who have used the Tea Party" to try to "exacerbate racial tensions in this country," Hoyer said, adding that he had seen some "virulent" signs directed both at Obama and at racial issues in general.
McConnell said he was concentrating on reaching out to the voters concerned about big government in the country and seeing a midterm shift in Congress.
His goal in midterms, McConnell said, is "to make the president a born-again moderate."
This post was updated at 9:38 a.m.