GOP reacts to Ted Nugent comments

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addressed a tea party gathering in Washington on Feb. 27, 2013.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addressed a tea party gathering in Washington on Feb. 27, 2013.

Some Republican office holders have been pushing back against comments from Michigan rocker Ted Nugent and President Barack Obama.

Nugent -- a bow hunter and an avid gun rights supporter -- called Obama a "subhuman mongrel," a term that has Nazi connotations.  

Nugent’s comments, made back in January at a Las Vegas gun show, attracted attention recently when Nugent was campaigning with Greg Abbott, a Republican candidate for Texas governor. (Nugent later said he went too far:  "I did cross the line. I do apologize -- not necessarily to the president -- but on behalf of much better men than myself.")

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer challenged Abbott about campaigning with Nugent: "That’s what the Nazis called Jews to justify the genocide of the Jewish community," Blitzer said in a Feb. 18, 2014, interview. "They called them untermenschen, subhuman mongrels. If you read some of the literature that the Nazis put out there, there is a long history of that specific phrase he used involving the president of the United States."

We looked into the past uses of the phrase, interviewed historians and found that Blitzer was on solid ground. We rated his statement True.

Meanwhile, Nugent tried to explain his remarks by saying that law enforcement often referred to the bad guys that way.

"I've been a cop in Lake County, Michigan, since 1982 thereabout. I conduct federal raids with the DEA and ATF and U.S. Marshals and the FBI and Texas Rangers and heroes of law enforcement," Nugent said.

"... When we are done with these kinds of raids, we get together and our hearts are broken that we have to face these monsters. We call them mongrels. We call bad people who are destroying our neighborhoods mongrels."

PunditFact looked into Nugent’s claim that he’s been "a cop" who has gone on federal raids. The one piece of this narrative that appears accurate is a single ride-along with U.S. Marshals in 2005. He is not a police officer in Michigan by any conventional meaning of the word. Officials said they don’t allow outside observers to participate in raids. PunditFact rated his statement Pants on Fire.

Soon, other elected officials were asked about Nugent’s remarks and his role in the Texas gubernatorial race. On Feb. 20. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told CNN, "It's a free country, but that kind of language really doesn't have any place in our political dialogue." Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the other hand, said the other side was no better: "I would be willing to bet that the president's Hollywood friends have said some pretty extreme things."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted an open condemnation: "Ted Nugent's derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize."

A week later, Paul -- a potential candidate for president in 2016 -- told a tea party gathering in Washington that the movement needed to watch out for divisive rhetoric.

"There are times, and I don’t think it is our movement, but there are times when people are using language that shouldn’t be used," he said. "I recently criticized someone for using some of that language. I’m not going to bring it up, but I will say, that we can disagree with the president without calling him names. ... When we present our message, if we want a bigger crowd, if we want to win politically, our message has to be a happy message, one of optimism, one of inclusiveness, one of growth."