Howard Dean: ‘Racist Fringe’ Exists in Tea Party That ‘Media Hypes Up’

By Nicholas Ballasy | October 18, 2010 | 6:11 PM EDT

Ohio Tea Party rally at the Cuyahoga County Fairground, Berea, Ohio, Sunday, April 11, 2010. (AP photo)

( - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said “there is a racist fringe” in the Tea Party movement which the “news media hypes up” and compared the movement to the supporters of his 2004 campaign for president.

CBS News’ “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer asked Dean on Sunday, “What do you make of the Tea Party? I think I saw somewhere, where you said the other day that Republicans have – have created a monster.”

Dean responded, “I didn’t say that. Somebody did say that. I don’t think it is a monster. I think they are going to have trouble with it. And I – let me just say, I would disagree with Senator Graham and – and Liz on the notion that Obama’s not in the middle. His health care plan was essentially the same as Mitt Romney’s. Mitt Romney is never been accused of being a liberal.”

Dean was referencing his fellow panelists on the show: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Republican strategist Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former advisor to President Clinton, Bill Galston.

“I – I think the – the Republicans are too far right for the country. And I think they are –they are – they believe – are two very conservative people both of whom are talking about running for president or believed to be running –going to run for president. I shared a stage or a forum with them in the last couple of days. Both of them said this is not kind – the time for compromises,” Dean told Scheiffer.

“It’s not the time for working together. The status quo helps liberals. We’re going to change the country. And I – that’s why I’m less skeptical – more skeptical about the possibility that we’re going to be able to work together after this [the midterm election].”

Dean went on to say “there is a racist fringe” in the Tea Party movement.

“The Republicans think they’re on a mission. And I think their mission is well outside the mainstream. The Tea Party people I see differently. There is a racist fringe and all that stuff which the news media hypes up,” Dean said.

“I think most of them are anxious to – anxious about the control that’s going on in Washington. And it was – in some ways there’s some similarities other than the ideology of the people – then with the people who supported me for president in 2004,” Dean said.

Dean added that the two Republicans he was speaking of were Sarah Palin and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Liz Cheney called Dean’s assessment “wishful thinking.”

“I think that this notion that the tea parties is too far right is really wishful thinking or that the Republican Party is somehow on the fringe or the extreme of the American Electorate. Again, I think it’s wishful thinking,” she said.

“I think that – you know all you have to do is look at somebody like Marco Rubio who won the Republican primary in Florida. And when he did, a lot of the pundits said, well, that’s great. He won the primary, but he clearly won’t be able to win the general election. And, he now has double-digit lead over Charlie Crist in that election. Crist was supposed to be the moderate Republican.”