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. Jules

    Go Grayson!

    September 30, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  2. Stephanie, Silver Spring. MD

    Mr. Grayson, speaks for me who has been denied (3) three different times by three different Insurance companies within (5) months from 2005 thru 2006. I thank Mr. Grayson for speaking out for citizens who are w/o medical help that are in drastic need. When these uncaring Republicans & some Democrats finally agree to have Public Option approved, hopefully this country have not lost another 44,000 plus American citizens while " dragging their foot & knuckles ".

    September 30, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  3. Willsooooon!!!

    So that's what it felt like for Republicans having Wilson have his tourret moment. I feel refreshed and empowered to have Grayson call them knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. Probably unnecessary, but booooy does it feel good. I guess now we're even and Republicans should expect a very sincere non-apology very soon

    September 30, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  4. wycliffe

    GOP will rather have a plan for the insurance industry than for American people

    September 30, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. Sheila

    Wow, it's only taken Obama and the extreme left Democrats about 8 months to convince the 'common sense' democrats to vacate the party. As a registered Democrat I don't want our sons and daughters at War, but what I do WANT is our CIA taking our every terrorist they find. Also I don't care if YOU have an abortion........but NOT a chance it's going to be on my tax payer dollar!! In 2010, we're voting you left Democrats out of office, better to have a balance in Congress then the left Democrats attacking the CIA (remember who's protecting you??) and using my tax payer money for abortions! If you want to pay for abortions, put a box on the tax returns so any left democrat can contribute an extra $100 toward someone's abortion!!

    October 1, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  6. patriotic independedent

    rep. grayson is absolutely right. where is the republican plan? absolutely NONE! health care reform without public option is no reform. democrats need to pass this reform with or without the republicans. they come to the table with no plan of their own and say no to everything. LEAVE THIS PUGS OUT OF ANY MEANINGFUL REFORM!!

    October 1, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  7. Walter

    Representative Grayson is my new favorite person. It's about time that someone in the Democratic Caucus showed a little fire.

    If the Republicans don't like it, let them show us the plan that Congressman Grayson says that they haven't got!

    October 1, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  8. Scott

    Finally, a Democrat that has had enough and is willing to tell it like it is!

    Wolf, how about more reporting and less scolding and instigating.

    October 1, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  9. Tone

    It's about time somebody stood up in the Democratic party for the people. I agree that you don't fire with fire but when your in a fire fight, you sure as heck dont throw water balloons. MAN UP DEMS, thats what we elected you for.

    October 1, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Congressman Alan Grayson has shown the Democrats the clear path to victory. I hope they were listening and that they ignore the Republicans who want to simply defeat the President. They care about nothing but their own pocketbooks filled with insurance money cash.

    October 1, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  11. Dennis

    Congressman Alan Grayson has clearly shown the Democrats the path to victory over the party of NO. The Republicans only want to defeat the President and care nothing about the people. These terrible people are simply the slaves to the insurance industry which is stuffing their pockets.

    October 1, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  12. Every

    THIS IS JUST A WASTE OF TIME! These repuglicans all summer long have said Obama had death panels, was killing grandma or killing seniors, this went on for weeks before a few repuglicans came forward and said they did not agree with those conclusions without offering an apology! Well, now they want an apology from Grayson for saying repuglican want Americans to either stay sick or die quickly! It doesn't matter anyway, how much time, how many amendments changes, or how many republicans contribute to this healthcare bill! THEY STILL WILL NOT NOT VOTE FOR THE HEALTHCRE BILL EVEN WITH ACCEPTANCE OF THEIR AMENDMENTS! So, democrats should just do what is right for Americans, insure the uninsured, pre-existent conditions, and not add to the deficit! THEY ARE DOING THE SAME THING THEY DID WITH THE STIMULUS PACKAGE! THEY AMENDED CHANGES, ADDED THEIR BILLS, WHILE LAMBASTING THE EFFORT AND DID NOT GIVE ONE VOTE! DEMOCRATS PLEASE DO RECONCILIATION AND IMPLEMENT THE PUBLIC OPTION!

    October 1, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  13. ex-Republican since Bush's destruction of America

    I like this guy! He's right. The extremists have taken over the Republican party and that's why I decided to go Independent. I am tired of the GOP being highjacked by Religious nuts called Christians who grow more hateful by the day!

    Thank God for real men like Grayson! Florida is lucky to have him!

    October 1, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  14. Teresa H

    Said it before and I'll say it again, "AMEN" Congressman Grayson

    October 1, 2009 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  15. yankeegirl15

    Dude, Marry Me.

    October 1, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  16. sideon

    One Democrat with cajones. It's a nice thing to see after all the flacid diatribes from Limbaugh and the Republicans. The country needs more Dems with cajones.

    October 1, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  17. Vindex

    I agree with Mr. Carville in that it's about time a member of Congress called on Washington to do the right thing. Ever since the Harvard study came out with the 44,000 figure of people dying each year because of no insurance, I've been waiting for someone in DC to wake up! More people are losing insurance every day, so that figure of 44,000 is only going to go up. So, GOP, how many people have to die before you work with the Democrats on a plan?

    As for Palin, she's almost correct about "death panels". It's not been in any proposal, but it already exists with each and every Insurance Company who denies access to health insurance to Americans!

    October 1, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  18. The Dude

    After all of the lies and fearmongering put forth by the Republican Party they have the gall to demand an apology??!!?? That is too funny.

    October 1, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  19. cutegrandma

    Grayson is saying this to cover up the fact that he made a statement that he wanted to let special needs to let nature take its course and not let them have medical care and bascilly let them die, he is trying to divert what he said, he needs to get impeached, I have one of those special needs children, I think he should go to jail for saying that, but what does he do, he makes this statement to divert the truth

    October 1, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  20. Michael

    Grayson is telling thte TRUTH and most other people in his party wish they had his cojones!! I wish they did too! Grayson called it right-the gop apparently isn't the only party with people unafraid to speak the way they feel.(A certain yeller during a Presidential Address comes to mind) We NEED Congress to act- both parties. I thank Congressman Grayson for his NERVE and his telling the TRUTH! It's a lead some of the other Dems need to follow!
    PARTY OF NO- they've been "called-out" BIG TIME!

    October 1, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  21. And...

    They can't take the truth can they?

    October 1, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  22. Gerda Edwards

    So when will he apologize for the upcoming runaway inflation and the looting of any possible wealth of future generations?

    October 1, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  23. DJS

    About time somebody told the truth. This rotten system, which the GOP (and some sold-out Democrats) wants to preserve for their benefactors, killed another 120 people today.

    The GOP = murderous sociopaths.

    And epic hypocrites.

    Not to mention pathological liars.

    October 1, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  24. Nea

    Dont get mad republicans, he is telling the truth what he saying is millions of Americans die each year and the republicans keep saying NO to everything the Democrats bring forth without a resolution of their own. Every delay on healthcare is costing to someones life so Yes! i agree with him Not oniy Republicans need to cough up a healthcare resolution but Democrats as well.

    October 1, 2009 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  25. Sidney Percine

    I love Grayson. He's real. He's fresh. If we had a full board of Dems like him the President would have a much better time. We voted him into office on the promise of change to the way Washington is run. We need more Graysons to actually get this done!

    October 1, 2009 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
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