For much of Thursday, U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman was the poster boy for the partisan gridlock that closed parts of the federal government this week.
Until an afternoon car chase and police-action shooting put Capitol Hill on temporary lockdown, a comment attributed to Stutzman had Washington media buzzing and elicited a response from President Barack Obama.
For his part, Stutzman, R-3rd, said his remark to the Washington Examiner a day earlier had carelessly misrepresented the Republican position on the federal spending stalemate.
An Examiner story by David M. Drucker reported that Stutzman was among Republican lawmakers who said in interviews Wednesday that the impasse is less about trying to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act than it is about bolstering the GOP in negotiations with Democrats over the national debt limit.
We’re not going to be disrespected, Stutzman told Drucker. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.
Without naming Stutzman, Obama read his quote during a public appearance in Rockville, Md., on Thursday and said that the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag.
If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you got that you deserve to get something for doing your job, Obama said, according to a transcript of his speech provided by the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., read Stutzman’s quote at a news conference and said, That’s what we’re dealing with.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus supported Stutzman during an interview with MSNBC.
I think what he is saying is that we don’t know what we’re going to be able to get out of it because the president hasn’t been willing to talk about this issue and negotiate something that can resolve the problem, Priebus said.
On Thursday morning, after the quote had bounced around the Internet, Stutzman issued this statement:
Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and (House) Speaker (John) Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people. Despite my remarks it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis, and stop ObamaCare’s pain.
By then, news media blogs were having a field day with Stutzman’s earlier comment.
Time’s Swampland blog carried the headline: Congressman Stutzman: He Has No Idea What the GOP Wants.
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog wrote: Stutzman is right. The fight over the shutdown has become unmoored from any particular policy demands the GOP believes it can secure. It’s become an issue of pride and politics.
The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson wrote that Stutzman’s comment to the Examiner is already being hailed online as the perfect embodiment of the GOP’s bargaining position: Equal parts resolution and deep confusion.
Democratic Party officials jumped in as well.
There are enough votes in the House right now to pass legislation to fund the government and end the shutdown, Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in a conference call with reporters. Boehner could. But folks like Congressman Stutzman are forcing their hand to keep (the government) closed. It’s time to stop the brinksmanship. It’s gone far enough.
Niki Kelly of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.