June 06, 2017 03:33 PM


Before the controversy surrounding his alleged racist tweets, Lee Garrett said he was “excited” to date The Bachelorette‘s first African American leading lady Rachel Lindsay.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that took place before the start of the new season, Garrett, 30, gushed about the chance to date Lindsay, noting that he had taken a liking to her as he watched Nick Viall‘s season of The Bachelor.

Garrett had high praise for Lindsay, 31, when producers asked his opinion on the newest Bachelorette: “I said I had been watching and that Rachel was probably the classiest girl on the season, and it was somethin’ else.”

Craig Sjodin/ABC; Mitch Haaseth/ABC

“Then I started really paying attention to her and who she was and learning things about her,” Garrett told THR. “I got more excited as time went by.”

Garrett has cemented himself as one of the more controversial suitors on the popular ABC show. In fact, the most recent episode saw Garrett engaged in drama with another contestant, Eric.

The interview comes as Garrett finds himself in the spotlight after offensive tweets, which have since been deleted, surfaced from a Twitter account appearing to belong to him.

Although Garrett’s Twitter account is private, screenshots taken by one user show messages that are claimed to be from as early as July 2015. In one tweet he allegedly advised his followers to “Never trust a female liberal” and in another allegedly described the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist group.

“What’s the difference between the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and the KKK [Ku Klux Klan]? Wait for it….. One has the sense of shame to cover their racist ass faces,” he allegedly tweeted in 2015.

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In another tweet, Garrett allegedly wrote: “Guys … when is the last time YOU actually saw a pretty feminist? There is a reason for this.”

While neither ABC nor Lindsay have commented on the tweets, and Garrett has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment, host Chris Harrison responded to the news in a tweet on Thursday

“For those asking, no, of course we didn’t know about the offensive tweets from Lee’s account. None of us were aware of them. Very unfortunate,” he wrote.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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