OKLAHOMA CITY -- A comment linking Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the Tea Party movement has state Republican leaders fuming.
The statement, made by Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins, was a reaction to what Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said about President Obama not issuing a statement about the 17 anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.
"I certainly said it was an epic fail," Pinnell said of the absence of a statement from Obama.
He was asked by national media if he thought the lack of a statement was because Oklahoma is not a political swing state.
"I certainly hope that wasn't the case, (that) if this was Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida, they would have remembered it," Pinnell said.
Collins reacted to that statement by saying, "Is he (Pinnell) forgetting the fact that the bombing was done by somebody of his bent, in other words a right-winger," Collins said. "If Timothy McVeigh were alive today, he most likely would be a Tea Partier."
Pinnell calls the statement indefensible and disgusting, saying the Tea Party stands for the principles of our founding fathers.
"Those are not principals of a mad man like Timothy McVeigh," he said. "He should apologize for it and the Oklahoma Democratic party should apologize for it."
An apology is not going to happen.
"I said that and I still believe it," Collins said Tuesday afternoon.
He said McVeigh was anti-government like the tea party, whose members, Collins said, are more afraid of the FBI than North Korea.
However, Collins said he does not believe the Tea Party encourages violence.
"No I didn't say that, but I think they do incite hate and when they carry signs such as comparing Pres. Obama to Hitler or KKK and things of that nature, I think that's very hateful," Collins said.
Tea Party activist Patty McAlister disagrees with Collins' comparison.
"I think he's nuts," she said Tuesday.
McAlister said the comparison is as unfair as pointing out that 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy was an active Democrat.
"Just because I believe in limited government, that doesn't mean I'm going to go out and blow something up and neither do the people that I associate with that go to the Tea Party rallies," she said.
Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford responded to Collins' statement as well.
He said, "It is hard to imagine a more extreme and culturally-inappropriate statement than comparing honest, hard-working Oklahomans to Timothy McVeigh. Oklahoma Democrats should be embarrassed that their political correctness and official rhetoric has sunk so low that now free speech and peaceful assembly is compared to domestic terrorism."
Mcalister said she sees democrats at Tea Party rallies as well.
Pinnell believes this comparison to McVeigh will now fire up Tea Party members for the upcoming election.