(CNSNews.com) - Provocative commentator Ann Coulter's remarks about Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards have sparked controversy not only among her customary critics, but among conservatives as well.
Speaking to an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Friday, Coulter said, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I ... can't really talk about Edwards."
(Last January Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington used the slur at the Golden Globe awards, causing an uproar. He then said in a statement he was seeking counseling.)
The Christian Defense Coalition said Coulter had "diminished herself and her message."
"Over the past decade, we have seen the national political debate turn ugly and vicious. With so many pressing issues facing the American public, one should never resort to vicious name calling or personal attacks in an attempt to prove a political point," coalition director Rev. Patrick Mahoney said in a statement.
Mahoney said he would have preferred it had Coulter exposed Edwards' "radical agenda ... instead of restoring (sic) to cheap name calling."
A conservative think tank that helped sponsor CPAC and has raised objections to some of Coulter's comments in the past said that the commentator and author pushed "her offensiveness up a notch" this time.
"I'm sorry to see that Ann Coulter once again made certain news coverage of CPAC would be focused upon her instead of upon the conservative movement's goals and principles," Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said in a statement on the group's website.
At last year's event, Coulter used the term "raghead" twice in a speech, triggering accusations of racism.
Ridenour said the NCPPR last year had seriously considered withdrawing its co-sponsorship of CPAC because of the "raghead" comment.
"I had 90 percent decided to stop our co-sponsorship for CPAC 2007, but the sponsor seemed to be taking our concerns about Coulter's 2006 remarks seriously and with what seemed to us to be appropriate sympathy, so the National Center co-sponsored CPAC again this year," she said.
Ridenour accused Coulter of going "out of her way to use a nasty epithet," describing the term she used as "even more universally reviled than the derogatory term she hurled last year."
"It would be better, in my opinion, to not have a CPAC at all than to have one that presents conservatism as a hostile, people-hating ideology," she said. "We conservatives have enough trouble overcoming the false things that are said about us without paying for a platform upon which we shoot ourselves annually in the foot."
The Edwards' campaign has posted on its website a clip of Coulter's remark in a bid to raise $100,000 to "show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire."
"The kind of hateful language she used has no place in political debate or our society at large," Edwards wrote in comments posted to his website on Saturday, calling the comment "un-American and indefensible."
The comment also drew condemnation from the leading candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
In response to the controversy, Coulter said on her website, "I'm so ashamed, I can't stop laughing."
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