Discuss as:

Dems: Protests get ugly, racist

From NBC's Luke Russert
Tea Party protests got ugly today.

African-American Congressman John Lewis
(D-GA), a protege of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who helped organize
the March on Washington, went to the House floor today to tell Majority
Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) that a Tea Party protester
called him a "n-----."

Another Democratic source confirms to NBC News
that openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) was
called a "f--" by somebody in the Tea Party crowd.

Rep. Emanaul Cleaver (D-MO),
another African-American member, was apparently spit on by a Tea Party

Clyburn, who helped lead sit-ins in South Carolina in the '60s had this to say regarding the Tea Partiers:

"It was absolutely shocking to me, last Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus Pomford University where 50 years ago, as of last Monday, March 15th I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit-ins...quite frankly I heard some things today that I haven't heard since that day. I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus. This is incredible, shocking to me.

He added, "It doesn't make me nervous, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate. ... Well a lot of us have said for a long time that none of this is about health care at all. ... It's about extending a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

*** UPDATE *** NBC's Shawna Thomas has more after an interview with Frank. Here's part of what he had to say:

"It's just disappointing. ... John Lewis said he felt like it was 50 years ago. ... I walked from the Longworth building to the Rayburn building ... people started shouting and saying abusive things, and I just kept walking. ...

"The Republican leadership is making a mistake not doing more to disassociate from this. ... It's a mob mentality that doesn't work politically. ... 

"The only problem I have with this... They all said 'You should quit. You should quit. We're going to defeat you. At some point... I'd like to retire. As long as I think it might make some of those people happy, I can never retire. I may have to work forever as long as they're out there."