‘Tea Party Chair recalls the hate speech she endured during her own campaign’

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ORLANDO – One of the first things that Peg Dunmire thought of when she heard about the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona that critically injured a local congresswoman was the final day of her own campaign for Congress last November. On that single day, Dunmire and her staff and supporters watched uncomfortably as four men followed them from one event to the next.

It was election day, and Dunmire — the Florida Tea Party’s candidate for the state’s 8th Congressional District — had posted her campaign schedule on her Web site that morning.

As she and her staff traveled from one event to the next, they noticed the same four men following her everywhere they went.

“They got my schedule because I had released it that morning, where I was going to be on Election Day,” Dunmire said.  “They went to all my events.”

Finally, the staff got nervous enough that they contacted police. An officer approached one of the men to find out why he was following the candidate.

“You know what they said?” Dunmire recalled.  “They said, ‘Because she’s not a legitimate candidate.’ I think elections decide that.”

Saturday’s shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others at a supermarket parking lot in Tucson has set off a national debate about anger, violence and heated political rhetoric in American politics.

It’s not yet clear if the man arrested for the shooting, Jared Lee Loughner, had any clear political motive, but the case has put a spotlight on the issue of inflammatory political language, and spurred a number of lawmakers to question how they can protect themselves at public events — with a few promising they’ll carry weapons themselves from now on.

Another lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Carolyn  McCarthy, D-N.Y.,  announced she would introduce legislation aimed at banning the high-capacity ammunition clip used by the gunman in the Tucson shootings. McCarthy won a seat in Congress in 1996, three years after her husband was shot and killed, and her son seriously injured, during a shooting on a Long Island commuter train.

Dunmire, the chairman of the Florida Tea Party, said she understands how ugly campaign speech can get, noting that the stalkers who followed her on election day were symptomatic of anyone who disagreed with her views or platform, and responded as if her candidacy posed a threat.

“I ended up being subjected to the rhetoric of hate,” Dunmire said.  “It happened to me here. We need to understand this hostility is pervasive.”

7 thoughts on “‘Tea Party Chair recalls the hate speech she endured during her own campaign’

  1. Davi Rodrigues

    What a shyster!

    She’s claiming victimhood relating to stalkers because people with an opposing view attended her events. And that passes for “hate” in her universe….
    Don’t dive head first into this candidate, because it looks mighty shallow

  2. Steve

    Davi,
    A group of four stalkers who follow a candidate from event to event solely because “she’s not a legitimate candidate” is indicative of some pretty disturbed behavior. I’d be concerned too, and a mid-major party candidate likely doesn’t travel with a large staff who can keep an eye on suspicious characters.

  3. Dennis

    This woman is trying to use the shooting to get some press for herself. Shame on her. Such an opportunist.

  4. Ben

    Wow that is profoundly stupid. It isn’t “stalking” if the person being stalked is a public figure and posted her campaign schedule online. Pathetic.

  5. Andrew

    And last I checked, weren’t the Tea Party some of the most inflammatory of the lot?

    I think they need a little reminder of the crap they’ve said in the past year, followed by a general education in the Constitution (going by a lot of their supporters, and the speeches of some of their candidates) and maybe a bit of political history.

    It is just opportunistic attention-seeking though. I mean, every time there’s a terrorist attack, i don’t start running to the press to detail about how I was mildly inconvenienced by an IRA bomb (which happened many times growing up in the UK, and is the analogue of her statement), let alone the time i walked past one a few moments before it went off (as happened in 1993). or how $costly_privacy_robbing_machine will not save us from it, no matter WHO the lobbyist is.

    I’m not that shallow…

  6. Richard Riker

    Peg Dunmire is as shameless. Her heartless attempt to compare an innocuous incident in her life with the Arizona tragedy is nothing more than an insensitive attempt to get some free press for herself and her fake TEA Party.

  7. DK

    I have a funny feeling those four men with nothing better to do on election day than stalk someone who got 4% of the vote weren’t Democrat/liberal/progressive operatives. Their activity sounds more like that of law enforcement officers to me. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tailed a third party candidate.

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