Controversial Columnist Draws Fire for Anti-Gay Slur

March 5, 2007 — -- Conservative bomb thrower Ann Coulter's lashing of 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina over the weekend has created a firestorm with Democrats and Republicans alike rejecting her remarks.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of grass-roots conservative activists, Coulter, a best-selling author, referred to him using a disparaging word for a male homosexual.

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards," Coulter said Friday at the gathering in Washington, D.C.

Later in the day, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, wasted no time in pouncing on Coulter's remarks and calling for the Republican presidential field -- many of whom were on hand to address the conference -- to denounce Coulter's words.

Dean said, "There is no place in political discourse for this kind of hate-filled and bigoted comments. While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on the issues, we should all be able to agree that this kind of vile rhetoric is out of bounds. The American people want a serious, thoughtful debate of the issues. Republicans -- including the Republican presidential candidates who shared the podium with Ann Coulter today -- should denounce her hateful remarks."

The 2008 Republican presidential front-runner, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York, who spoke to the conference just hours before Coulter, told ABC News over the weekend that Coulter's comments "were completely inappropriate and there should be no place for such name-calling in political debate."

In an interview with ABC News' Sonya Crawford, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore brushed off Coulter. "You know, she's an author," he said.

A spokesman for Sen. John McCain who was absent from the conference called Coulter's comments "offensive," adding that "political discourse ought to be more substantive."

A spokesman for former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who preceded Coulter at the conference Friday and said that he was happy to hear that the conference would hear from her, called Coulter's words "offensive."

"Gov. Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect," Romney's communications director Kevin Madden said.

Edwards, the target of Coulter's confab, wrote on his Web site that "the kind of hateful language she used has no place in political debate or our society at large."

His campaign manager, David Bonior, who attached a video link of Coulter's conference speech in an e-mail letter to supporters, tried to play up the controversy in the form of a pitch for campaign cash.

"Coulter's attack was no accident. It happened on national television at one of the year's biggest conservative conferences. Dick Cheney and most of the Republican candidates were in the audience. She was even introduced by Mitt Romney," he wrote.

Vice President Dick Cheney was not at the conference during Coulter's speech; he addressed the group on the previous day. Romney did not introduce Coulter.

Coulter Not New to Controversy

This is not the first time Coulter has been involved in a highly charged controversy over something she has said or written.

In her 2006 book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," Coulter went after widows of the Sept. 11 victims.

Of the group commonly known as the "Jersey Girls," Coulter wrote, "These broads are millionaire, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. … I've never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much."

In an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Coulter said she believed everything in her book while accusing liberals of using the 9/11 widows to criticize the Bush administration.

USA Today, which planned for Coulter to write a column for its publication, dropped her after a dispute over one of her articles about the 2004 Democratic National Convention.