During protests against the House passage of the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, several members — including Lewis, Rep. EmanuelCleaver (D-MO), and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) — reported thatdemonstrators hurled abuse that included the n-word.
On the March 21, 2010 edition of C-Span’s Washington Journal, host Steve Scully asked Nunes about the incident, and Nunes appeared to argue that while the language was “not appropriate,” the protesters had “every right” to use it, and that they were provoked by the legislative process.
“Can you give us a sense of the flavor of the debate on the floor, and what you hearing, a lot of angry comments yesterday and at a couple of year college including Barney Franks and Congressman John Lewis, using the n-word as some of the protesters jeered at him as he walked through the halls of the Capitol,” Scully asked.
“Yeah, well, I think that when you use totalitarian tactics, people begin to act crazy,” Nunes said, adding that “I think there’s people that have every right to say what they want. If they wanna smear someone, they can do it.”
“It’s not appropriate, and I think I would stop short of characterizing the 20,000 people who were protesting, that all of them were doing that,” Nunes continued.
“Those are just some of the stories, some of the comments,” Scully pointed out.
“Yeah, of course, and I think that the left loves to play up a couple incidents here or there, anything to draw attention away from what they are really doing,” Nunes replied.