Whether you are quoting someone else or not, there are probably some things you should not say on the Senate floor, especially if they are about constituents who have supported you in the past. At a town hall meeting in Gilbert this week, constituents who identify with local Tea Party groups gave Arizona Sen. John McCain for quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial that referenced Tea Partiers as "hobbits" last month. Local KTVK 3 catches the heated exchange at about (2:10):
McCain, however, didn't back down:
"What apology is in order? What was wrong that I said?
There was no way that a balanced-budget amendment would have passed the Senate. If anyone said that it could, they were not being truthful. Hobbits are not real, and the point is that it was not real."
In the video Sen. McCain said he is not going to give an apology for something he describes as "the facts." Here is the controversial segment from the op-ed:
"The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. 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."
Despite Sen. McCain's July 27 comments being a quote, many feel they were an attack on the collective Tea Party, inappropriate for the Senate floor, and hypocritical considering it was Sen. McCain who brought to prominence Sarah Palin, a hero to many who identify with the Tea Party .
"It's not my fault that it was misunderstood," said Sen. McCain Monday. "I'm sorry that it was misunderstood."
This is not the first time McCain has defended his Middle Earth remarks. Jonathon Seidl reported on Sen. McCain's July 28 interview with Sean Hannity:
“'I wasn’t attacking the Tea Partiers or anybody, he said, later adding that the editorial he read was more of an 'attack on President Obama.'
'I admire, respect and appreciate the Tea Party, and they’re the ones that gave us a majority in the House of Representatives so that we can get something done,' McCain said near the end of the interview.
Still, he disagrees with the “idea” that conservatives would rail against John Boehner‘s plan because it doesn’t do enough (such as advancing a balanced budget amendment)."
KTVK 3 reports that many constituents at the Gilbert town hall were as frustrated after hearing Sen. McCain as they were when they first arrived.
"McCain showed he didn’t have all the answers and at times blamed the democrats for the problems the country is facing. 'We may have a revolt in this country,' said Ed Nemeyer, who was at Monday’s town hall meeting, 'And you might see Washington become completely irrelevant.'”
Things didn't get any easier for Sen. McCain when he tried to move the conversation away from the recent debt negotiations. Ahwatukee FootHills News caught that when Sen. McCain was asked about United Nations Agenda 21, a plan for sustainable development introduced at the 1992 Earth Summit, he was jeered by some in the audience when he needed the questioner to elaborate.
"'It's a takeover of the United States,' a man said. 'The UN wants to take over our farms.'
'You are so out of touch, dude,' another told McCain"