In a startling admission from a major Tea Party champion, former Fox News host Glenn Beck said Friday that race may be a motivating factor in the Tea Party’s opposition to President Obama. In an interview with Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano, Beck said Obama and GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich are both “big government progressive[s],” so he doesn’t understand why Tea Party members are supporting Gingrich. “If you’re against [Obama] but you’re for [Gingrich], it must be about race,” Beck said:
BECK: And I issued a challenge to Tea Party members. … [Gingrich] is a progressive. … If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama, one in Newt Gingrich, one in Obama, ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy, it must be about race.
The comment is striking coming from Beck, who organized major Tea Party events and strongly defended the movement against charges of racism. “The NAACP adopted a resolution condemning the racist elements of the Tea Party. Well, I’d do that, too, if I knew where they were,” Beck said in July 2010. Now, it seems he finally knows there are. And he’s being disowned by conservative blogs for expressing this. Conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart responded by calling Beck a “coward,” a liar, and a “huckster,” saying the race comments “jumped the gun, and in essence jumped the shark.”
Indeed, just this weekend, a Tea Party group in Kansas drew condemnations from the local NAACP for depicting President Obama as a skunk. “It is half black, half white, and almost everything it does, stinks,” reads the website of the Patriot Freedom Alliance, a Tea Party of Hutchinson, under a picture suggesting “the skunk has replaced the eagle as the symbol for the president.” Darrell Pope, president of the Hutchinson NAACP, called it “a blatant statement of racism.”