By Carol Costello, CNN
(CNN) – Republicans are walking a tightrope when it comes to the Tea Party movement. On one hand, it needs its passion; on the other hand it doesn’t need the controversy it sometimes brings – especially if it’s racially tinged.
While Republican Party leaders say they don’t condone “ugly talk,” Newsweek.com’s Katie Connelly writes, “they encourage the sort of anger that boils over into such foul insults...” And, some analysts say, because of that, the “ugliness” rubs off on the Republican Party. Connelly asks, “has the Tea Party protests become loud, mad and dangerous for Republicans?”
Lenny McCallister is African-American, a Tea Party member and a conservative Republican. He says Republicans “have to speak out against this stuff because it does not fit our principles, morals or values. At the same time we cannot alienate the most active aspects of the conservative base at this time.”
He’s calling on conservatives to help the Republican Party walk that tightrope in a way they did not in 2009. Last year, when Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele denounced Rush Limbaugh’s “incendiary talk,” he ended up apologizing for his remarks.
Steele and other Republican leaders did condemn those who shouted racial slurs at black lawmakers this past weekend, but rejected the notion that its association with the Tea Party is dangerous because, “at its core it’s about shared conservative values, limited government, lower taxes and individual freedom.”
Some Republicans say the real danger for their party is in not saying this loudly enough. Princella Smith is one of some thirty African-American Republicans running for Congress. She says, “I’m a small town girl and so what I’m espousing are small town, every day American principles. I’ve gotten positive response from Republicans and Tea Partiers.” And, she adds, that’s what should be shouted at Tea Party events across the country.
McCallister, who is a popular speaker at Tea Party events, agrees. He says Republicans and Tea Party members should strongly discourage “fringe elements” that show up at Tea Party rallies. They should not be made welcome, he says, and his party should make that resoundingly clear.