Watch CBSN Live

Brian Schweitzer: Eric Cantor set off my "gaydar"

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is many things, but circumspect is apparently not one of them.

Schweitzer, a Democrat who's said he's mulling a presidential bid in 2016, offered a colorful appraisal of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the soon-to-be former House majority leader who was defeated in a primary election last week.

"Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say in the South, they are a little effeminate," Schweitzer told National Journal's Marin Cogan in an interview the night of the election. "They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say -- and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right -- but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting."

Schweitzer also weighed in on the controversy over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. He panned Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as a hypocrite for criticizing the programs after they became public despite her already-deep knowledge of them.

"She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees, and now she says, 'I'm a nun,' when it comes to this spying," he said.

He quickly added, "I mean, maybe that's the wrong metaphor--but she was all in!"


Schweitzer would face very steep odds to claim the Democratic nomination in 2016 if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also launches a bid.

Since he left the governor's office last year, though, he's carved out a unique space for himself as an often-irreverent, straight-talking alternative to the Clinton juggernaut.

Last December, discussing ongoing tensions in the Middle East, Schweitzer subtly dinged Clinton for supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq during a speech in Iowa.

"Now maybe we're going to make the right decision, or maybe we're just going to go to war again," he said. "And the reason why I'm in Iowa, in part, is I'm asking you to pick the leaders who are not going to make those mistakes."

In a recent interview in Time Magazine, Schweitzer also looked suspiciously at Clinton's ties to the financial industry. "You can't be the candidate that shakes down more money on Wall Street than anybody since, I don't know, Woodrow Wilson, and be the populist," he said.

He advised Democrats to pick their nominee in 2016 carefully, asking whether they want leaders who will "roll over and get scratched on the belly by corporations like a fat dog."

And despite Clinton's growing support within the party, he insisted he could win if he decides to run.

"If you wanted to make a big machine that matches the machine that is likely to be built around Hillary then you would have to have started eight years ago," he explained. "But if the outcome is always known with a superior, slow moving army, then we would still be part of England and we would still have a king. And Hillary would be president, or whatever you have under a king, but certainly it would not have been Obama."

Update: Schweitzer apologized via Facebook Thursday afternoon: "I recently made a number of stupid and insensitive remarks to a reporter from the National Journal. I am deeply sorry and sincerely apologize for my carelessness and disregard."

View CBS News In