Andre Carson responds to Tea Party controversy

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana 7th District Congressman Andre Carson is under fire - and supported - for controversial remarks he made that were captured on tape.

Carson is dominating the news Wednesday for comments that he made in Miami, Florida last week. In the audio clip posted on a Glenn Beck website, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus went on the attack when talking about the Tea Party.

 "The Tea Party is stopping that change. This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party would love to see you and me hanging on a tree," Carson told the group.

"Congressman Carson said that we the Tea Party would want to lynch them. He knows better than that. Our movement is very diverse," said Greg Fettig, Tea Party activist.

Fettig, who just returned from a trip to Israel in conjunction with Glenn Beck, said Congressman Carson's words crossed the line.

"We are being attacked. This is nonsense, what he is doing and frankly it calls into question if he is fit to serve in public office," said Fettig.

It even captured the attention of talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"No evidence that the Tea Party lynched anybody. I think this is how discombobulate these people are," said Limbaugh.

Carson offered an apology for his remarks Wednesday, saying, "If I hurt anyone that wasn't my intention. But the passion was there and the truth of what I said stands on solid ground. Having said that, I think we have to stay focused and know that the issue is jobs, jobs, jobs. There are some members in Congress who are hurting the American people. They are hurting their own constituents. They're passing legislation and supporting legislation that supports big business and corporate interests and I think they're gonna see their constituents are gonna disapprove greatly once they understand the impact it will have on their districts."

Carson's 7th District constituents don't share Limbaugh's sentiments. They aired their viewpoint on Afternoons with Amos on WTLC Radio.

"Congressman Carson is not off track Amos. He is exactly right dead center," said a caller named Brenda.

"Usually people don't get mad when you tell them the truth," said Erin.

"That Tea Party ain't nothing but the Ku Klux Klan and ain't got nothing else to do but try and make the brother look bad," said a caller named Kareem.

There could be more fallout from the controversy. Florida Republican Allen West says he is considering quitting the Congressional Black Caucus over Carson's remarks. West told "Fox & Friends" he found the Democrat's comments "reprehensible."

Rep. Carson says his statements were taken out of context.

"I said there are some who have espoused a certain philosophy that takes us back 50 or 60 years. But the Tea Party as an organizational body has made some excellent points in terms of cutting back on excessive government spending, increasing transparency in government - I actually stand in solidarity with them. But I'm concerned about some of the extremist elements who tend to be remnants or leftovers from the John Birch Society or George Wallace's Dixiecrats. They're a small group of people. I think most Tea Partiers are well intentioned and want to see our country in a better place. I just don't want to see the rhetoric increase where we're cutting entitlement programs, we're hurting working class Americans, we're hurting poor people. It's the wrong way to go."

On the issue of the Tea Party not being concerned with the jobs issue insofar as it impacts minority and other disadvantaged communities, Carson said, "I wouldn't say that definitively. I will say that there are members of the Tea Party who have espoused a 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' mentality when a lot of people don't have boots - brown, white and black."

"What I'm deeply concerned about is the rhetoric involved - the divisive rhetoric that has separated the races. The divisive rhetoric that separates Americans, that has diverted us from getting back on track, investing in infrastructure, investing in our schools and making sure we reclaim the crown of being the greatest nation on planet earth."