A tweet by a state senator referring to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh as a KKK member has rallied Democrats behind him, while the GOP is demanding disciplinary action.
Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Bear, posted a cartoon on his Twitter account Feb. 8 that shows several hooded KKK figures with one wearing the Medal of Freedom. The caption reads “Find Rush Limbaugh” and Townsend posted, “Whoever finds him gets a medal.”
Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address Feb. 4.
GOP Chairwoman M. Jane Brady released a statement Feb. 11 describing Townsend's tweet as disgusting, and she called on Democratic leadership to take disciplinary action against Townsend.
“Your failure to do so will display a tolerance for the intolerant, sanction offensive conduct, and encourage more of the same,” she wrote.
In January, Brady removed a New Castle GOP chairman after he used a homophobic term in social media, and Sussex County GOP officials removed its vice chairwoman after she made an anti-Semitic post about Democrats involved in the impeachment process.
“The Republican Party of Delaware is proud of our record of civility and respect, and committed to an honest discussion on the issues without demeaning or demonizing others,” Brady said. “When leaders of our party acted contrary to that commitment, our party immediately took action to remove them from a position of leadership.”
Erik Raser-Schramm, chairman of the Delaware Democratic Party, said the party explicitly backs Townsend.
“Mr. Limbaugh has a long and sordid history of racism, and that President Trump saw fit to honor him with the nation's highest civilian honor is part of this story,” he said. “That Mr. Limbaugh is facing a grave cancer diagnosis is the sad part. We offer our thoughts and prayers.”
Limbaugh recently announced he had stage 4 lung cancer.
Senate leadership could not be reached for comment, but Townsend issued a statement on the tweet, which remains on his Twitter account.
“Hate speech and criticism of hate speech are not the same thing. I retweeted a cartoon depicting someone with a long public history of hateful, divisive remarks standing as part of a group known for hateful, divisive conduct. I’ll own that decision, and I wish Mr. Limbaugh and his family the best as he begins his fight against cancer,” he said.