September 30th, 2009
09:32 PM ET
3 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. Jake from Windsor Colorado

    OK.... I like this guy!! anyone that can talk over that blow hard Alex Castronevez is awsome!!

    September 30, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  2. Fan of Common Sense

    Oh let's just go back to third grade why don't we. GROW UP!!!

    September 30, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. Capsaicin

    It feels good to have a Democrat stand up for Americans who have no insurance and have no voice. If Republicans had a real health reform plan they could have enacted it when they were so powerful under Bush. Instead they chose tax cuts and war. It just shows their current actions are merely to slow Democrats down to yield nothing, or the most corporate favorable plan possible.

    After all the town halls, FOX TV and radio screamers, Wilson, and the anti-Obama talking points they disseminate daily, it seems to me the Republicans can dish it out, but they can't take it–they cry like a little girl when their feelings are hurt. Classic bully behavior.

    Need more Democrats like Grayson–anger and outrage are not just for Republicans to monopolize.

    September 30, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  4. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Sounds like someone is in desparate need of some campaign contributions. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Sit down, Newbie. You're no Joe Wilson. :-)

    September 30, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. New Yorker

    No plan would be better than what the democrats have in mind because their plan is to have a COMPLETE government takeover; mandatory health insurance would be unprecedented and just the beginning of serious and far reaching dismantling of individual rights.

    September 30, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. pa independent and fiscally responsible

    How can citizens criticize polotical parties when they both act so uncivilized? Politicians...including our pres...want it their way and will say or do whatever necessary then act like spoiled children when they do not succeed. It is time for Congress to grow up and learn manners.

    September 30, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Wise Latina

    Grayson is an obamanation. He must resign and resign NOW.

    September 30, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  8. Jesus Christ the Son of God Against StOoPiD Dumb Ass Republicans

    Grayson is a HERO and all REPUBLICANS are a ZERO.

    They have no WAY . . .

    He told the TRUTH . . .

    The unisured risk a short LIFE! Amen.

    My name is the Great Physician and I approve Grayson's message.

    September 30, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. GJ

    About time! A Democrat with balls....love it.

    I wish all of our congresspeople had this level of candor. The focus should be put on how many people are dying and who is really being affected, not on political concerns and name calling of facism (lol) and socialism.

    Next he can call out the weak-minded & cowardly "conservative" Democrats helping out the Republicans and insurance companies.

    September 30, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. We Won Get Over It

    About time a democrat told the republicans what they are. We have rush, drudge, malken, the republican members of congress and the republican infomerical channel Fox News calling the democrats Nazis, socialists and everything else imagable and yet the dufus try to pretend they are outraged at the fact that a democrat finally, finally, finally gave it back to them and they mess their pants.

    Since this is so discriptive of the type of post that is never put up, at least I got to tell it like it is..

    September 30, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  11. Not waiting to beg for Insurance pay out

    A Democrat with a Spine!!!!!!

    where do I send my money!!!!

    Seriously. A Real Congressman.

    100.00 bucks to your campaign Sir,

    We are with you, Many many working Americans are with you.

    September 30, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I like this guy! He articulate exactly how I feel. Way to go Congressman.

    September 30, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  13. Mary

    Alan Grayson is telling the truth. The Republican president Bush was the only president in history to give the wealthiest only tax cuts. Obama is willing to give up his tax cuts, money that could go to help the troops get better equipment and protection while fighting for America. Money that could go to American children without any health care. The Republicans only talk the talk when it comes to Christianity. But they get loud, crude and juvenile at town hall meetings. Since when is vandalism, and carrying guns to meetings and inciting murder Christianty? Obama has had a 400% increase in death threats. The Republicans are disgustingly irresponsible. Thats why they sent over 4000 American troops to their deaths in Iraq, on a lie, without even adequate protective gear and equipment and decreased their benefits at the same time. "Beware of the wolf in lambs clothing"

    September 30, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. nathan smith ga

    good for grayson i wish all the democrats had the courage you have!

    September 30, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  15. cole

    balls

    of

    steel

    September 30, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  16. Terry, TX

    Carville...Belago....Grayson.....are a bunch of hypocrites......what about all the hysterical screaming about Joe and "You Lie".....and Pelosi trying to squeeze out a tear about the vile rhetoic in the 70's....Grayson is crazy and you guys all know it.

    September 30, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. Matt from Georgia

    You don't suppose the Joe Wilson incident and the resulting avalanche of campaign contributions had something to do with this outburst do you?

    Monkey see, monkey do. :-)

    September 30, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. Mary

    Alan Grayson is telling the truth. The Republican president Bush was the only president in history to give the wealthiest only tax cuts. Obama is willing to give up his tax cuts, money that could go to help the troops get better equipment and protection while fighting for America. Money that could go to American children without any health care. The Republicans only talk the talk when it comes to Christianity. But they get loud, crude and juvenile at town hall meetings. Since when is vandalism, and carrying guns to meetings and inciting murder Christianty? Obama has had a 400% increase in death threats. The Republicans are disgustingly irresponsible. Thats why they sent over 4000 American troops to their deaths in Iraq, on a lie, without even adequate protective gear and equipment and decreased their benefits at the same time. "Beware of the wolf in lambs clothing"

    September 30, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  19. Alex

    Bravo!!!!
    Don't apologize, fight fire with fire.

    September 30, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. Melvin

    With the republicans part of the government process in the US.Who needs enemies.

    September 30, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  21. Happy Paul

    Finally! A democrat with the fortitude to call them likes he sees them. I laugh at the republican response of whining victimhood. For the sake of the country, I hope the republicans stop the lies, obstruction, and toadying up to the insurance industry so we can prevent more avoidable deaths.

    September 30, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  22. 60's survivor

    lol now that was well said. I'll vote for that guy.

    September 30, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  23. tasaad

    Finally, someone who is not afraid to tell it like it really is.

    September 30, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  24. John Burik

    As Rachel Maddow said, Grayson's remarks were "an average Tuesday in the House of Representatives," an unfortunate style put into practice by the GOP, oh say, Palin, Bachman, etc.

    September 30, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  25. Pointy Tail

    Grayson has it wrong to call the Republicans "Neanderthals", when it's obvious that they most closely relate to Piltdown Man; all hot air and phoniness..

    September 30, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
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