Obama takes heat from Tea Partiers at Iowa town hall
President Obama got a little dose of Tea Party town hall anger on Monday during his three-day tour of the Midwest.
At a town hall event in Decorah, Iowa, local Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes stood up and shouted a question at the president regarding reports that Vice President Joe Biden had called the members of the Tea Party "terrorists," USA Today reports. Rhodes questioned how the president can talk about civility when Biden was accused of using that kind of rhetoric.
After taking a question from another town hall attendee, Mr. Obama said he agrees that everyone should tone down their political rhetoric.
"Now, in fairness, since I've been called a socialist who wasn't born in this country, who is destroying America and taking away its freedoms because I passed a health care bill, I'm all for lowering the rhetoric," he said.
Earlier this month, Biden told CBS News that published reports that he compared Tea Party-linked lawmakers to "terrorists" were "absolutely not true." Instead, the vice president explained, "What happened was there were some people who said they felt like they were being held hostage by terrorists. I never said that they were terrorists or weren't terrorists, I just let them vent."
Though Mr. Obama addressed the question during the town hall, Rhodes and another critical town hall attendee pressed the president on the issue after the event.
"When you're talking about civility, how is your vice president calling us terrorists?" Rhodes asked.
Referring to the debt ceiling debate, Mr. Obama responded, "For us to be willing to take the economy to the brink was irresponsible."
A woman next to Rhodes reminded the president that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano once warned that right-wing extremists should be monitored. Mr. Obama responded, "That's true, Timothy McVeigh should be -- you would agree with that."
After a bit more back-and-forth, the president told Rhodes, "It doesn't sound like you are interested in listening," and continued shaking hands with other Iowans in attendance.
The president hit the road this week to talk with voters about reviving the economy. As unemployment continues to hover around 9 percent, the president's poll numbers have dropped recently, and Republican presidential candidates are ratcheting up their political attacks against him.
During his two stops yesterday, Mr. Obama pointed to a number of initiatives he has proposed to create jobs and spur economic growth - including renewing payroll tax cuts, building up infrastructure programs and giving tax breaks to companies that are hiring veterans - but said "Congress needs to move."
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