Tea Party Battles to Scrub Racist Image Bigots aren't welcome, say leaders By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted May 5, 2010 3:16 AM CDT 68 comments Comments A sign at a Tea Party protest in Michigan. (Getty Images) (Newser) – Tea Party groups are fighting to overcome widespread perceptions that their movement is racist. Polls show that some 30% of Americans see the movement as motivated by racism against the nation's first black president, a figure that rises to 61% among opponents and sinks to 7% among supporters. Leaders say that while racists exist within the loose network of Tea Party groups, they're doing their best to end the association. "We don't want the worst elements to take this over," the campaign director for the FreedomWorks organizing group tells the Washington Post. "If they do, the Tea Party loses independents, it loses moderates, it loses people who don't tolerate this." The founder of Tea Party Nation says that people with offensive signs at a recent protest in Nashville—who he suspects may have been "plants from the other side"—were ejected.