ORLANDO, Fla. - Republicans said a fundraising email sent out by Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida that shows a burning cross in the words "Tea Party" is "unacceptable and deplorable."
The email has a photo depicting a burning cross with Ku Klux Klan members in white robes in the background. The words "Tea Party" appear on the image, with the burning cross serving as the letter "T."
The email was sent earlier this week.
Channel 9's Tim Barber spoke with tea party members Wednesday morning and they said they are outraged over the comparison.
Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, demanded in a statement that state Democrats condemn Grayson for making the comparison between the KKK and the Tea Party.
Grayson said in a statement released Wednesday that Tea Party members have a record of making racist remarks.
Grayson said, "If the hood fits, wear it."
West Orlando Tea Party co-founder Clyde Fabretti said the email and image is an outrageous comparison.
"Comparing the Tea Party movement to a racist organization, to the Ku Klux Klan, is like comparing or calling the Mohavi Desert a deep water lake, it's just not true," said Fabretti.
But Grayson said Tea Party supporters have engaged in "relentless racist attacks" against President Barack Obama, calling him Kenyan, Muslim and using racial slurs.
But Fabretti said he does not condone racist lies and neither should Grayson.
"They are individuals and where they are and what they do is, I think, governed by a different set of standards than what a congressman should do and say," said Fabretti.
WFTV political analyst Rick Fogelsong said he believes the email and image with work for Grayson with his hardcore Democratic constituency.
But some of Grayson's own constituents said they think he went too far with the ad.
"I think this is a bad representation of whatever he is trying to do," said Orange County resident Angela Davidson.
"That is pretty messed up," said Orange County resident Frank Matott.
Grayson is up for re-election and his Republican opponent, Jorge Bonilla, is calling Grayson's email "vile and despicable."