New tape of a Texas congressional hopeful's interview with a Dallas TV station shows the candidate making it clear he was not advocating "violent overthrow" of the government in 2010, and suggests his claim of being taken out of context may have some merit.
Pastor Stephen Broden, running for a U.S. House seat in Texas's 30th district, came under fire last week for his comments that violent overthrow of the government is "on the table." And while he never denied making the comment, he did claim he made it clear to interviewer Brad Watson of WFAA-TV that such an option is only viable in extreme instances, after means such as voting have been exhausted. Just-released tape of the full interview seems to substantiate Broden's claims.
Toward the end of the raw tape (released by WFAA on it's website), Watson asks Broden to clarify comments made in 2009 that once constitutional remedies for governmental change have been exhausted, revolution is an option.
Watson: "What do you mean by revolution?"
Broden's initial response includes nothing about violent overthrow:
Revolution is a part of the statement that is made, that when governments become destructive ... to the end of protecting the liberties and the freedoms that we have, ... it is the right of the governed to alter or abolish it. ... And the abolishment of that is through change, through reform, through revolution.
Watson continues to prod: "Are you implying that if a change at the ballot box can't be made to your satisfaction, you're urging some violent uprising or overthrow of the government?"
Broden: "No. I am not saying to my satisfaction at all. I'm saying that if in fact we have a government who becomes destructive to the end that the founding fathers identified with in the Declaration -- and that has to deal with our liberties, our unalienable rights, those rights that are given to us by our Creator -- if in fact government becomes destructive to that end, it is the right of the governed to alter or abolish it, and abolishment there means to change to it, and change has to do with revolution."
Watson : "What do you mean by revolution? Do you mean a violent overthrow of the government?"
Broden: "It doesn't have to be violent at all. It can happen at the ballot box when we change our leadership."
Watson: "But you've kind of excluded that where you say 'we have a constitutional remedy' -- the ballot box -- 'and the framers said if that that don't work, revolution.'"
Broden goes on to reiterate that only if government becomes destructive and tramples on citizens' liberties should it be changed, and at that point the American people have the right to "get rid of it by any means necessary." Watson uses that statement to try again to have Broden admit he's in favor of violent revolution.
Watson: "So you would include a violent overthrow of the government by saying, if the framers said that don't work, revolution?"
Broden: "No, I would say that to whatever extent that we can alter, or adjust, or abolish it --"
Watson: "Well, what does by any means necessary -- doesn't that include violence?"
Broden: "Well that's part of the scenario, but that is not the first option. And it obviously wasn't the first option with the Declaration of Independence."
Watson: "So you would include some kind of violent overthrow of the government by including revolution?"
Broden: "It is not the first option --"
Watson: "It is an option, though, in your eyes --"
Broden: "The first option is to alter it or abolish it, it is a part of the scenario. And we as Americans must understand that our founding fathers included that in the scenario."
Watson: "But violence is an option as you view --"
In response to that question, Broden offers the quote included in Watson's original story -- the quote that has now become infamous.
Broden: "Our nation was founded on violence. We violently resisted King George, and revolted against his tyranny."
Watson: "In 2010 you would urge that as an option, though?"
Broden: "The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table as relates to our liberties and our freedoms."
Watson's news story ends the quote there. However, Broden continues on, attempting to make it clear that violence isn't the first option and there are other means to affect change:
However, it is not the first option as the founders framed. And I think what we have in the Constitution is a process through which we can alter what may be tyranny that's happening in our nation, at that ballot box.
On the video, Watson seems to end the the interview after Broden finishes that quote. But the camera keeps rolling and Watson asks some more questions, including one that could be the the most relevant of the interview:
Do you think some of your remarks could hurt you in this election?
Broden's response seems prophetic given his later claims:
If it's not given the context, and if someone like you would lift it out and make it seem as if I'm some kind of radical, I think it could potentially.
This afternoon, Broden sat down and watched the full interview. After finishing, he e-mailed his reaction to The Blaze:
It appears that my remarks were misrepresented and were a distraction from the real issues. I hope I can share my vision for the 30th District, which includes economic development, supporting small business growth, and educating a workforce to take advantage of a 21st century economy.
In an interview with The Blaze over the weekend, Broden suggested that his campaign was unaware that the interview was going to take the format it did. Broden said he and his campaign were under the impression that it was going to be a question-and-answer regarding his views on health care, social security, and entitlement reform.
So when he showed up and was greeted by a TV monitor playing his former remarks, he was shocked.
The Blaze has new information regarding how the interview was set up that could explain the confusion.
According to phone calls with campaign officials and an an e-mail obtained by The Blaze, the interview with WFAA was setup up through a third-party public relations firm familiar with, and frequently used by, Broden's campaign.
A phone call to the firm which produced both of Broden's TV commercials, confirmed that WFAA did contact them to set up the interview. The company official who worked as the contact person confirmed he was told by WFAA that Watson wanted to play back old remarks and have Broden respond to them.
Yet in that official's e-mail to the Broden campaign, he leaves out any mention of old remarks or playing them back.
"Brad Watson at Ch 8 wants to interview Pastor Broden tomorrow AM around
11:30AM at Ch 8 studios," the official writes on October 20. "Knows that he has some strong views on the health care bill, social security, the mortgage and banking crisis, end of life counselors, etc."
The e-mail ends shortly after that with no mention of format.
Debbie Georgatos, who heads media for Broden's campaign, told The Blaze that she and others based their interview preparation on that e-mail. Accordingly, they never prepared anything regarding revolution or violent overthrow.
The failed communication between the third-party firm and the campaign, then, could be why Broden thinks he was misled about the interview.
Even so, that misunderstanding doesn't explain why his numerous clarifications and caveats regarding revolution were never included in WFAA's final story.