Democrats and Republicans Sunday squared off on whether they believe there are elements of racism in the Tea Party.
When asked about the Tea Party movement on CNN’s State of the Union, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said there “are some members who have used the Tea Party… to exacerbate racial tensions in this country.” He cited “virulent” flyers directed at some members “that have clearly referenced race.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is head of the Republican campaign arm in the Senate said on NBC’s Meet the Press the racism charge is “slanderous” and without basis. The Tea Party movement  he said, “demonstrates, and I think the enthusiasm that we’re seeing from independents and Republicans is that, if Washington isn’t going to change itself, then we’re going to change Washington.”

Appearing on the same program, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Texas., who is head of the Democratic campaign committee in the House, said the Tea Party is made up equally of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters and “100 percent are sure that the agenda that is taking place in Washington, D.C. is about extremism and is about bankrupting this country and every state within this country.”

Vice President Joe Biden said neither he nor President Obama thinks the Tea Party is made up of racists.

“Very conservative,” Biden said on ABC’s This Week. “Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, appearing on State of the Union, dodged the question entirely and said his focus in on getting conservatives elected in November.

“I have got better things to do than to wade in to all of these disputes and discussions that are going on out in the country,” McConnell said.