At town hall, McCain takes heat for "Tea Party hobbit" comment, refuses to apologize
McCain, one of many lawmakers using Congress' August recess as an opportunity to hold town hall meetings and connect with constituents, defended his remarks - and pointed out that he was merely quoting a Wall Street Journal article.
"What apology is in order?" McCain asked, when called on to apologize. "What was wrong that I said?"
The editorial McCain quoted in his July 28 remarks likened Tea Party members to characters in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
"The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue and the public will turn en masse against Barack Obama. ... Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the Tea Party hobbits could return to Middle-earth having defeated Mordor," McCain said, quoting the editorial.
McCain told town hall audience members that he quoted the remark because a debt limit deal with an attached balanced budget amendment had no chance of passing in the Senate - and that any argument to the contrary was, like hobbits, fictitious.
"There was no way that a balanced-budget amendment would have passed the Senate," McCain said, according to the Tribune. "If anyone said that it could, they were not being truthful. Hobbits are not real, and the point is that it was not real. You should not deceive people and say that something like a balanced budget amendment could happen."
"It's not my fault that it was misunderstood," he added. "I'm sorry that it was misunderstood."
McCain also pointed out that he has voted for a balanced budget amendment more than a dozen times, and touted his record as a fiscal conservative.
"I will match my record as a fiscal conservative against anyone in the House and Senate, including the new members," McCain said. "I have fought both the Republican and Democratic leaders on spending. I will defend my record."
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