September 30th, 2009
09:32 PM ET
7 years ago

Grayson calls Republicans 'knuckle-dragging Neanderthals'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Freshman Congressman Alan Grayson refused to back down Wednesday from controversial remarks he made on the House floor the night before saying the Republican health care plan calls for sick people to "die quickly."

In fact, Grayson - a Democrat who represents a central Florida swing district that includes Orlando - made another floor speech in which he apologized to the dead and their families for not acting sooner on health care reform, and then defended both speeches on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"What I mean is they have got no plan," Grayson told Wolf Blitzer. "It's been 24 hours since I said that. Where is the Republican plan? We're all waiting to see something that will take care of the pre-existing conditions, to take care of the 40 million Americans who have no coverage at all.

"That's what I meant when I said that the Republican plan is don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly."

Republicans pounced on Grayson's late-night speech and demanded an apology.

"That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it," Tennessee Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the Politico.

On Wednesday, Grayson apologized, but it wasn't the apology the Republicans wanted. Citing a Harvard University study released earlier this month that said 44,000 Americans die each year because they have no health insurance, Grayson called on Democrats and Republicans "to do our jobs for the sake of those dying people and their families."

"I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America," he said.

That prompted National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain to issue a stinging rebuke saying that Grayson is "doubling down on his despicable remarks and he is dragging his party with him."

"This is an individual who has established a pathological pattern of unstable behavior," Spain said. "He is derailing the national debate on health care reform and embarrassing his constituents as a result."

But in a spirited discussion on CNN that included Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, Grayson stood his ground. He flatly rejected the suggestion that his remarks were the political equivalent of South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson's shout of, "You lie," at the president during his nationally televised speech on health care.

"I didn't insult the president in front of 40 million people," he said. " ... When you don't have a plan, what that means is your plan is don't get sick. So what I said is true. What Joe Wilson said, on the other hand, is false."

Castellanos insisted that Republicans agreed with the Democrats on pre-existing conditions and would "stand with him 100 percent" if the president added such Republican-backed proposals as tort reform and allowing citizens to shop across state lines for insurance - a strategy Democrats say will drive insurance companies into the states with the most lax regulations.

"The congressman is at least giving the chance for the Republicans to look responsible. It's not fair to say that the Republicans have no plan. They actually do," said Castellanos, whose campaigns include George W. Bush in 2004, Mitt Romney in 2008 and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the late Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina in the 1990s.

Carville, who was Bill Clinton's lead strategist during his successful run for the presidency in 1992 and worked Hillary Clinton's campaign last year, congratulated Grayson for having "the courage to go up and say what he said."

But Carville backed away from Grayson when the congressman said that Republicans he believes are obstructing health care reform are "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."

"I would call (them) regressive as opposed to Neanderthal," Carville said.

Grayson also rejected comparisons between his comments and those of some Republicans, including former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, that the Democratic reform plan called for "death panels" to decide who would get life-saving treatments.

"I said to myself, 'I wish Sarah Palin read the bill.' That's not what this bill says. That's a scare tactic," he said. "What I said is the god's honest truth."

Grayson said he decided to deliver his after-hours speech Tuesday after the Harvard study was released and he realized "we cannot go on any longer in this country where people cannot afford health care, where they coverage they got is good until they need it."

Calling for universal health care, he slammed "whoever it is that's causing the Republicans to fight tooth-and-nail against anything, absolutely anything, to have every vote come down to being 257 to 175 in the House, over and over and over again."

"Those are the people who are really disserving Americans," he said.

- CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

Filed under: Alan Grayson • Health care • Popular Posts • The Situation Room
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    Sounds like someone needs to apologize, or get a reprimand from Nancy. Oh Dumbacrats get to use free speech.

    September 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. gino

    Newt, you were always a newt.

    September 30, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  3. Willy Brown

    Another dumbocrat who not as fast as a 6 pack.

    September 30, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. gino

    Bravo Grayson! You tell it like it is.

    September 30, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. The Teester

    Rocks, yes and not taking any s-. Make Grayson Speaker of The House as he is right on

    September 30, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. K.Clark

    I was amused at how "offended" Alex Castellanos & Wolf Blitzer were at Grayson's statements..funny how they weren't apalled at the numerous false, and hideous statements the Repugs have made.
    I applaud Rep. Grayson for finally telling it like it is!! BRAVO!!!

    September 30, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. Gary

    I saw Grayson on the Wolf Blitzer show tonight. I'm independent not Republican but Grayson was acting like a rude jerk. He sounded immature and unprofessional. At least the guy from South Carolina apologized to the President. Grayson just sounded like a mean jerk. Hope they vote him out in the next election.

    September 30, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. JC

    Okay, so maybe he's laying it on a little thick with the hyperbole, but his passion is evident–and the facts back him up.

    About time the Dems have somebody who's taking the fight to the Republicans, instead of the other way around! ACT–don't react.

    September 30, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. windfall

    The insurance companies are behemoths raking in billions of dollars annually; republicans simply don't want things to change because they are being funded by these corporate pigs. Things need to change, and soon.

    Thank you Mr. Grayson, for saying what half this country is already thinking.

    September 30, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  10. CB

    Though its just slinging some mud back at the GOP. I like it... thank you for the new guys sticking up to the American people before they too get sucked into the money pit of DC politics.

    September 30, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |

    Rep Grayson is the leader of the Obama Death Panels and is just trying to pass the buck as being innocent. Just like a LIEING DEMOCRATE.

    September 30, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  12. Jon with a brain.

    'knuckle-dragging Neanderthals'...

    ya, that sounds about right..

    September 30, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. Carter

    It really is about time a Democrat stands up and fights back. The Repubs are a gang, which likes to have it both ways, in that they like to act in all manner of disrespectful behavior, but when someone calls them for it, they transform into the helpless victims. They are Neanderthals. Their free market, let corporations do what they want and will while we look the other way is what got the country in this mess. They admitted that on the one hand and then in the same breath now call for the same free market, non-regulations policy that got us here in the first place. That is as backwards as a Neanderthal; but then again they are worse than a Neanderthal, because even a Neanderthal wasn't so backwards that he or she couldn't learn from pivotal mistakes(i.e. you touch fire and realize that it is hot and you don't touch it again).

    September 30, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  14. Zion

    If the truth hurts, just say ouch.

    September 30, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  15. yoyolite

    It was fine when the rethugs were screaming death panels and killing grandma over the summer. What goes around comes around. Where can I donate to his re-election when his term is up? My HERO!!!

    September 30, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  16. T Mckinley

    I wish people would stop insulting Neanderthals by comparing them to knuckle-dragging Republicans.

    The Neanderthals were much more intelligent and advanced than ANY neo-conservative living in our times.

    September 30, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  17. Micah

    It is about time some one took on the Republicans...We all see the writing on the wall...drag your feet now and then if you can muster the votes and make it work for your Insurance companies next term bring it back and win the popular vote to say you did it...well I am sorry I lost a relative recently and I know health care sucks and they couldn't give a rats ass in the industry for Health your care. They are robbers of our Premiums and not stewards of our hard earned money . They provide a Crap load of empty promises.....I can tell you HEALTH CARE IS IN CRISIS MODE believe me your policy looks good in writing but they scabs will find a way to make it not covered or some assinin reason to not cover your illness and or make it a pre-exsisting condition...INSURANCRE COMPANIS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS..BEWARE your coverage is only that an empty promise!

    September 30, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  18. Metzger

    Its about time I heard a Democrat getting on the Republicans' case as hard as they ride us. I applaud Mr. Grayson and his willingness to slam those who deserve to be the subject of ridicule.

    September 30, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  19. Ken

    Good for Grayson! Finally, a Dem with the cajones to use the Republican's own tactics against them, but instead of just using one liners to lie, he just hits them with the truth... they have no real plan.

    September 30, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  20. Marie Laveaux

    Yeah, and they're ugly and their mama dresses 'em funny, too! Let's be careful not to have a "townhall moment", Mr. Grayson, we want to be above all that. Just stick to the facts, please, and leave the poor, maligned Neanderthals out of this.

    September 30, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  21. valwayne

    The Democrats have called everyone concerned about Obamacare giving pain pills to the old and very sick instead of lifesaving pacemakers and cutting $500 billion from Medicare which won't be so nifty for the old folks either, UNAMERICAN, EVIL MONGERS, RACISTS, POLITICAL TERRORISTS, MOBSTERS, and now apparently Knuckle Dragging Neanderthals! And Nancy Pelosi and the National Press are concerned about the tone from opponents of Obamacare? I haven't seen much about the Republican plan, probably because they don't have the votes to do anything without it, but I doubt it guts Medicare for the elderly with $500 Billion in Cuts!

    September 30, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. Jesus Christ the Son of God Against StOoPiD Dumb Ass Republicans

    This is the most honest and truthful statement about the REAL Re-Dumb-Again's retarded ideas ever spoken in public. Congratulations to Grayson for having the guts to say it like it is.

    If you are reading this and you don't have health insurance and you AGREE with the Republicans on their Plan to constantly deny YOU health insurance then you are a certified IDIOT. Wake up StOoPiD!

    My name is Jesus the Great Physician and I approve this message.

    September 30, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  23. Matt

    Grayson for President! This is the kind of Democrat we need - not one who wants to work with Republicans, but one who wants to expose them for the ignorant frauds that they are and, ultimately, to exterminate them.

    September 30, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  24. SLM

    Keep it up'll be voted out soon enough! He should explain that the Public option would make getting an appointment to see your doctor months out and surgeries, many will die waiting in line. How about some information on how many people WITH insurance that die from undiagnosed heart disease.

    September 30, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  25. Rudy

    This is a good example of the partisanship in Congress that has completely shut out the Republicans, allowing for zero compromise. This wasn't what Obama promised during the campaign.

    Isn't it ironic, now the Dems control all three branches in majority, yet still can't get a bill through? They should point the finger at themselves before trying to find scapegoats. The house of cards is falling and in their desperation, they have to play the racism and conspiracy cards.

    September 30, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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