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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 22nd, 2013
06:43 PM ET

Analysis: Democrats should stay out of the way, let tea party 'be idiots'

Many Democrats are talking about the tea party and the damage it has wreaked upon the Republican party. But an e-mail Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson sent to supporters yesterday, comparing the tea party to the KKK, is pretty unforgivable.

CNN reached out to Grayson, who defended the image given some of the racist attacks against President Barack Obama.

"Whenever we sink this low in politics and draw that kind of analogy, it doesn't help anybody," said Ron Fournier, with the National Journal.

"It's outrageous," said political commentator and vice president of JDA Frontline Kevin Madden. "Neither party has a monopoly on extremism, and using coarse language inside the political debate."

"There's not an equivalence between one member of Congress and the entire tea party and the language and rhetoric that's used. Obviously rhetoric like that on either side is wrong, and should be stopped, but I don't think we should just say the parties are equal and have equal extremists," said Neera Tanden, president for the Center for American Progress and former adviser to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The e-mail comes at a time when the tea party is getting a lot of media attention, Democrats are certainly talking about them being extremists, and the public views them as extremists.

But Grayson's language and rhetoric go too far.

"He should say sorry for it. I think that that is wrong language and that everyone in the political process should not condone language like this. Doesn't help anyone that people send out these e-mails and try to raise a lot of money by getting people angry," said Tanden.

"The fringe part of the Republican party right now, there are so many of them doing so many outrageous things, get out of the way. Let them do that. Let them be the idiots. I don't know why a Democrat would want to get in the way of the tea party hurting the Republican party," said Fournier.

For more of our political panel, watch the video above.

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