Candidate's 'joke' offends tea partiers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The leaders of an Eastern Panhandle Tea Party group are claiming former state lawmaker and current GOP gubernatorial candidate Larry Faircloth made a racist and sexist remark about President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Terry and Larrice Craver, the co-founders of We the People of Hampshire County, said the group hosted a candidate forum April 29 in Romney that three GOP candidates attended.
"While Mr. Faircloth was giving his opening comments, he chose to tell a racist, sexist 'Joke,'" the couple said in a Monday email obtained by the Daily Mail. "This offended several people, some laughed, most gasped, and one man stood up and walked out and made the statement 'You're all nothing but a bunch of bigots' on his way out the door."
The Cravers declined to retell the joke in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Faircloth referred to Pelosi as a "bimbo."
"Is she not one?" Faircloth said in a Tuesday evening telephone interview. "I mean, a lot of people think she is a bimbo; that's why they replaced Congress with Republicans, and they removed her as speaker. I don't find that as anything different than a political poke at her."
He also referred to Obama as a "Sambo," a term many consider racist.
"It was meant to be a joke, and if they took it different, I told the people there that I apologized," Faircloth said.
He added, "We've been tiptoeing around the president."
Faircloth said he had heard the joke earlier that day from a poll worker.
The Cravers said they first asked Faircloth to make a public apology but he refused. Finally, they said they sent the email Monday to other tea party groups across the state.
"I put it out there so other tea parties would know what's going on. I didn't put it out for publication; I was putting it out for their knowledge because it goes to the character of the candidate," Terry Craver said in an interview.
In the email, the Cravers described an attempt to get Faircloth to apologize.
"Terry told him that his joke offended several people at the forum," the email, which was written by Larrice Craver, said.
His reply: "Well, they laughed," according to the email.
Terry Craver asked Faircloth to put an ad in the Hampshire Review to apologize to the community.
"His reply was a resounding NO," the email said. "He is afraid that if one of his opponents were to get a hold of this information, that it would damage his campaign. He doesn't want his reputation to be hurt. Terry told him with the National Media already trying to make the tea party out as a bunch of racists his 'joke' would do more damage to the reputation of the tea party."
"At one point, he offered to talk with the man that walked out ... said he would have him laughing before it was all over ... he also offered to take anyone he offended out to dinner IF we were to locate them ourselves and basically keep it hush-hush. He is willing to come to our next tea party meeting to apologize to our members, but overwhelmingly, they do not want for him to come or apologize to them ... they too want an apology to the community instead."
Larrice Craver said in an interview that Faircloth's desire to keep the incident quiet "speaks volumes" about him.
Faircloth denied that he offered to take people to dinner.
"I don't operate that way, I'm not taking anybody to dinner," he said.
Faircloth added, "Whoever is making that accusation is misrepresenting the facts."
He said the We The People group of trying to help another candidate in the race.
The Cravers founded their group in fall 2010 with the goal of helping to educate voters in Hampshire. That, they said, was also the goal of their email.
"We're not another arm of the Republican Party; we're not Democrats," Larrice Craver said. "Both sides are as bad as the other, and when somebody's done something wrong, that's right, we're going to call them on it."
Contact writer Ry Rivard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1796.