Video has surfaced of Walter Havenstein, the GOP establishment’s pick to challenge Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in the upcoming New Hampshire gubernatorial race, dismissing Tea Party conservatives as “teabaggers” while speaking to a group of business students at the University of New Hampshire. The video is from 2010, during the height of the Tea Party’s popularity.
“We got a lot of problems in this country,” said Havenstein. “The teabaggers, or whatever they are, they’ve been telling us that all summer long. Alright?”
“Isn’t that who they are? I’m a little out of touch,” Havenstein continued, smiling.
The usage of a sexual slur is Havenstein’s latest folly. As previously reported, Havenstein is the former CEO of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a tech company that was awarded billions in federal contracts and implicated in in a spyware hack on security software that happened to involve the NSA. He was still CEO of SAIC at the time of this video.
Havestein insisted in a press release that he was using the word in a positive manner. According to the Union Leader:
“As anyone who watches the full video can clearly see, I was talking about the positive impact that the Republican victory in the 2010 elections had on shaking up the status quo. So it was obviously a poor choice of words. The great thing about our democracy is that we get to shake things up every two years, which is what I want to do this November.”
This past weekend, at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers straw poll and picnic in Hillsborough, Havenstein was approached by attendee Dennis Hamel. Hamel explained to Havenstein that the word “teabagger” is a “trigger word” used by opponents of Republicans to specifically incite anger, and had asked Havenstein to apologize. “How should I react when you referred to me, my wife, most of the people in this room, and millions of patriotic Americans with a homosexual slur?” Hamel asked Havenstein. Havenstein responded that Hamel should watch the full video of his speech, and Hamel replied that “a very sincere and public apology is in order.” Havenstein did not reply.
Republican candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway responded to Havenstein’s video slur in a statement:
“Whether one likes the ‘Tea Party’ or doesn’t like the ‘Tea Party,’ everyone should be offended by this. People have referred to me as a Tea Partier and I always say this: If you mean an average citizen worried about the future of our country as it relates to over-taxation, over-regulation and limited liberty who is willing to stand up and work? Then fine. That’s who these people are.”
Hemingway was also in attendance at the CNHT straw poll, and gave a speech following Havenstein’s that began pointedly describing the beginning of the Tea Party organization in New Hampshire. “I’m curious, how many of you were at the very first Tea Party that was started in New Hampshire? How many of you were there for that?” Hemingway asked the crowd.
Hemingway went on to discuss the work done over the last four years by Tea Party and liberty-minded Republicans fighting for lower taxes and reduced spending, while Havenstein “was living in Maryland, speaking at groups passing derogatory comments about the Tea Party.”
“This is unacceptable. This is unacceptable from the likes of Rachel Maddow, and this is unacceptable from the likes of a Republican candidate running, asking for your vote. I am offended, we should all be offended that this type of behavior exists,” Hemingway said. “We must have an apology for this type of action.” Hemingway bested Havenstein the straw poll 111-43.
The video of Hemingway’s speech is available below.