Rep. Bachmann: Media Falsely Portray Tea Partiers as ‘Toothless Hillbillies’ and 'Rubes From the Backwater'

By Nicholas Ballasy | March 29, 2010 | 5:34 PM EDT

Protesters, including Tea Partiers, rally outside of the House chamber as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the health care overhaul bill in the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told that the media are falsely portraying “people who are in the Tea Party movement as toothless hillbillies, as rubes from the backwater, who don't know what they're talking about.” 
In a video interview, asked Bachmann if she saw or heard anything at the Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill the day before the health care bill was passed that was consistent with the widely reported claim of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) that attendees at the rally had shouted racist remarks.

“I did not,” said Bachmann.  “We had over 30,000 people here on a Saturday (March 20) at the west side of the Capitol, a tremendous group of individuals trying to get the attention of Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats saying, ‘Don't take away my health care from me.’ I met with--The media tend to portray the people who are in the Tea Party Movement as toothless hillbillies, as rubes from the backwater who don't know what they're talking about.”
Bachmann contested that characterization. “I met surgeons, anesthesiologists, family practice guys, interns. I met pharmacists. I met business owners, lawyers,” she said.  “I met people from all walks of life--political people, 75-year-old women who came out. I didn't see any indication of racial tensions. I didn't see any indication of being personal, against personal members of Congress.”
“What I saw were people that were fighting for their constitutional liberties and fighting for our country,” said Bachmann, “and I think it's a tremendous affront trying to castigate people who are fighting for our country as somehow being racially motivated. I didn't see that at all.”
Clyburn said he heard racist remarks from Tea Party attendees that he had not heard since the days of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
“It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn told The Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where 50 years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And, quite frankly, I heard some things today [March 20] I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”
One of Rep. Clyburn’s staffers told reporters that a protester spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) at the rally.