Tom Tancredo's Tea Party "lunacy" about Obama and Kenya a First Lady quote, he insists

Former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo has been making the Tea Party circuit of late, with his remarks about topics like civics literacy tests prompting conservative heavyweight Dick Armey to call him bad for the movement.

But that hasn't shut him up. The latest kerfuffle: At a South Carolina Tea Party rally, he asked, in reference to President Barack Obama, "If his wife says Kenya is his homeland, why don't we just send him back?"

The White House calls this implication that Obama was born in Africa "lunacy" -- but Tancredo insists he was merely quoting the First Lady.

When White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about this remark, he replied, ""I could probably fill the better part of my afternoons responding to the general lunacy of somebody like Tom Tancredo," but then declined to do so.

In a Washington Post blog about this exchange, David Weigl described Tancredo as "a minor figure now," albeit one sufficiently irritating for Gibbs to dismiss by name.

Tancredo's Rocky Mountain Foundation seized on that mini-coup by putting out a press release suggesting that Gibbs had unintentionally insulted Michelle Obama, who had called Kenya her husband's "homeland" in remarks recorded a couple of years ago. Presumably, she meant "ancestral" homeland, but the birther crowd has seized on the statement, making it a popular YouTube destination.

Whatever the case, Tancredo glories in pushing buttons, and he's jabbing at them again. Check out his latest take and the Michelle Obama comments below:

Tancredo responds to White House attack

Bob Gibbs should question Michelle Obama: What did she mean by calling Kenya Obama's 'home country'?

Denver, Colorado -- Former Congressman Tom Tancredo responded today to criticism from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who referred to Tancredo's weekend remarks to a South Carolina Tea Party audience as "lunacy."

In a speech on the weekend to a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina, Tancredo said, "If his wife says Kenya is his 'home country ' why don't we just send him back?" The remark earned Tancredo a standing ovation.

Gibbs did not mention the fact that Tancredo was quoting Michelle Obama, who gave a speech on in August 2008 [now on YouTube] to a Gay and Lesbian conference during which she said, "He [the president] visited his home country in Kenya."

"I said to the Tea Party audience that we need to send him packing in 2012," said Tancredo. "We sent Carter back to Georgia and Al Gore back to...where? -- Georgetown, I guess. If Michelle Obama thinks Kenya is her husband's 'home country,' I assume he will want to return there after leaving the White House in January of 2013. I did not say Obama was born in Kenya, I merely quoted his wife calling Kenya his homeland in a speech during the 2008 campaign.

"I could have said, let's send him back to Chicago," said Tancredo, " but neither Michelle Obama nor her husband has never called Illinois the president's 'home country.' We can all appreciate why that might not be their first choice as a place to retire considering the skeletons buried there."

Tancredo noted that much of the news coverage of his remark about "sending him back" -- such as the CBS News story -- omitted any reference to the Michelle Obama quote about his Kenya homeland.

"I guess Gibbs does not dare embarrass Michelle and attacking Tancredo is more fun. But if there is any 'lunacy' afoot, it is Gibbs' wild insult to the First Lady. He really should show more respect for Michelle Obama's words."

Michelle Obama's speech can be viewed on YouTube:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts