On Sunday night, as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) was in the midst of a speech advocating for the passage of health care reform, a Republican lawmaker yelled “baby killer” at the pro-life Democrat. The heckler was initially unknown, but yesterday Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) issued a statement admitting that he yelled at Stupak and apologized for his behavior. Neugebauer claimed, however, that his outburst was not personally directed at Stupak:
Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase ‘it’s a baby killer’ in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself.
“I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) downplayed Neugebauer’s outburst in an interview with Politico, saying that she doesn’t “think it’s going to be as big a deal as” Rep. Joe Wilson’s shouting “you lie” at President Obama while he was addressing Congress. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), however, told Don Imus today that the “baby killer” incident was “more wrong” than Wilson’s because he thinks it was a “personal attack” on Stupak’s motives. Watch it:
In an interview with CBS News today, Stupak said that Neugebauer “did call and apologize and he said it wasn’t directed towards” him personally. He added that if that is true, then Neugebauer should apologize to the entire House on the House floor:
But, because Neugebauer said the remark wasn’t directed personally at Stupak, the Michigan congressman said his colleague should apologize to the whole House.
“If that’s the case then it must have been directed toward the rest of the members of the House, and I would hope that Randy would just clear it up and take to the House of the floor [sic] and say ‘look I didn’t mean to offend anyone and if i did I apologize.’” Stupak said. “That’s what he should do and that’s what I would expect him to do.”
Neugebauer, however, has no intention of making such a public apology. On a conference call with reporters today, he said he wouldn’t apologize on the floor, adding, “If I don’t apologize they may bring some kind of action against me on the floor. But you know what, they’ll just have to do that because I am not backing down.” Neugebauer, who is following in Wilson’s footsteps by raising money off of his embarrassing outburst, said that “Americans all across the country are speaking out in favor of what” he said and “they are so appreciative that” he “stood up and called a spade a spade.”
IMUS: Did you hear whoever it was, well we have identified him now, the guy from Texas, did you hear him holler ‘baby killer?’
ISSA: I didn’t. I’ve had the recording played back to me a number of times and I can’t recognize the voice. Originally, they said it was someone from California. I was sure it wasn’t his voice from what I heard. But, you know, you have to denounce whoever it was. It was absolutely wrong. It was more wrong than the president calling out the Supreme Court during the State of the Union. It was more wrong than even the Joe Wilson comment because personal attacks, not, you’re wrong, not even you lie, but personal attacks on the motives and so on of somebody of that sort, inappropriate. You know, Congressman Stupak has been strongly a supporter of finding compromise if you will to prevent people’s own money from being taken for something they find wrong and reprehensible. And even though I think he made a terrible mistake, I think he sold out, you know, for less than what he should have to protect something he believes in. Ultimately, he doesn’t deserve to be insulted on the House floor and for that, whoever said it, whether it was a member, staffer or someone in the gallery, I think all of us, all of us I know denounce it and rightfully so.