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Mike Pence: 'I take John Lewis's word' on racial slurs

NEW ORLEANS -- During his speech Friday to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, conservative media guru Andrew Breitbart criticized the mainstream media for reporting on claims that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) were subjected to racial slurs by tea party protesters as they walked to the House the day before its final vote on health-care reform.

"They've been fishing for months and they've got nothing," said Breitbart, who has offered $100,000 to anyone who can prove that the slurs actually happened.

As I noted earlier today, it's become widely accepted among tea partiers and conservatives that the "slur" story was unfair and unsubstantiated.

"The RNC and certain GOP leaders were out apologizing for this incident that never happened," tea party leader Judson Phillips said today, "and this changed the course of the discussion from the health care take over to the alleged 'racism' and 'violence' of the Tea Party Movement."

But Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who condemned the reported slurs in a March 21 CNN appearance, told me that he still believes the story.

"A couple of weeks before the alleged incident occurred, I was walking across the bridge in Selma, Ala., with John Lewis," said Pence. "I take at face value what John Lewis said. If John Lewis said he heard it, I believe he's a man of integrity. And I would denounce those kinds of statements in the strongest possible terms."

By David Weigel  |  April 9, 2010; 7:36 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care , Race  
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