McCain refers to 'tea party hobbits,' blasts Bachmann-backed idea
July 27th, 2011
07:36 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain refers to 'tea party hobbits,' blasts Bachmann-backed idea

Washington (CNN) - On the same day that House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans to "Get your asses in line" and support his debt ceiling proposal, Sen. John McCain also blasted fellow Republicans.

In a Senate floor speech laced with sarcasm and stings, the Arizona Republican aimed especially harsh fire at the tea party Wednesday.

McCain said the movement is "foolish" to think a balanced budget amendment could pass before the August 2 deadline. At one point, McCain read from an op-ed in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. That article referred to activists as "tea party hobbits" – the little people who inhabit Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings series.

McCain – 2008's Republican presidential nominee – also blasted as "bizarre" an idea supported by current GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, though McCain did not mention her by name.

McCain's fiery language comes amid competing Democratic and Republican plans to reduce the deficit.

McCain also blasted Democrats in his speech. He called the plan from Majority Leader Harry Reid "full of smoke and mirrors," and said President Barack Obama is leading "from behind" by not offering "a specific plan that perhaps could be considered by both bodies."

"It's unfair of the president of the United States ... only to go out and give lectures and act in as partisan a fashion as I have seen in his addresses to the American people," McCain said.

When it came to the tea party, McCain was equally biting.

He said he fully supports a balanced budget amendment. But he thundered that current political realities make passing one in the near future near impossible.

"What is really amazing is that some (Senate) members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation – and that is foolish," McCain said.

"That is worse than foolish," he continued. "That is deceiving many of our constituents."

"To hold out and say we won't agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, it's unfair, it's bizarre," McCain added. "And maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better."

McCain did not mention which senators he was referring to. But also on Wednesday, Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, tea party boosters, joined many tea party activists who rallied on Capitol Hill demanding passage of the "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan. Among other things, that proposal would cut total spending by $111 billion for fiscal year 2012 and require a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would cap total annual spending at 18 percent.

McCain talked about Boehner's plan and quoted the Wall St. Journal piece, which said: "The question now is whether House Republicans are going to help Mr. Boehner achieve significant progress, or in the name of the unachievable, hand Mr. Obama a victory."

McCain continued reading the article: "The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue and the public will turn en masse against Barack Obama....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...This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP nominees. The reality is the debt limit will be raised one way or another."

Earlier in his remarks, McCain blasted a position that Rep. Bachmann supports.

Saying, "Today we are six days away from a possible default which could plunge this country into a serious crisis," McCain added: "There are those that argue somehow in a bizarre fashion that somehow we could prioritize our payments to the most urgent requirements, such as our veterans, such as Social Security."

Bachmann recently co-sponsored a bill that aims to ensure military service members receive their paychecks on time should the nation default.

McCain won re-election in last year's midterm elections after a bitter primary with former congressman J.D. Hayworth, who had some tea party support.

The nation's largest tea party group is responding to McCain.

Mark Meckler is co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. He told CNN that many Americans support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution – and "What Republicans should be doing is pushing all the way to the line."

As for McCain's quoting the Wall Street Journal's line about "tea party hobbits," Meckler used his own Lord of the Rings metaphor to strike back at the senator.

"Clearly he's been corrupted by the ring of power," Meckler said.

Republican Sharron Angle, who lost her Nevada Senate bid against Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in 2010 with support from the tea part movement, praised the "hobbits" while taking a jab at McCain.

"As in the fable, it is the hobbits who are the heroes and save the land," Angle said in a statement. "It is regrettable that a man seeking dialogue, action and cooperation for votes on the floor of the United States Senate has only one strategy to achieve that effort: name-calling. Nice."

Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: Debt • Deficit • John McCain • Tea Party movement
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. ArtInChicago

    No Dr. McCainenstein, you unleased the Palin plague onto the villagers. The Tea Party zombies were certainly going to follow.

    July 27, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. Jimh32

    Once again McCain proves what a profound embarrassment he is to the Republican party. He is the very symbol of the entrenched Washington establishment. Why the good people of Arizona continue electing this fraud is beyond me. Maybe he should refrain from mocking his fellow Republicans until he pays back the hundreds of millions of dollars he wasted running one of the most toothless, inept presidential campaigns in modern history. Sadly, even if he goes away, we're now saddled with his bleach-blonde, airhead spawn.

    July 27, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. steven harnack

    Too little too late. He rode along with his hobbits when they were against his foes, well, the reality that he is seeing NOW is the same reality that was there all along.

    July 27, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Deal with it McCain - your cutesy little rogue is partly to blame. I hope ALL your stocks cave 100%.

    July 27, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  5. me

    Those hobbits rode in inside the suitcase of his former running mate, Sarah Palin. McCain was either very poorly advised, or, a very cynical man for choosing Palin. Palin and the hobbits cost him the election, no wonder he's still pissed off at them. Well, that plus they're a bunch of idiots. Now they're about to ruin the entire country. Yeeeeahhp John McCain, the guy who broke the seal on the tea party's dungeon cell. Hope you're sleeping okay these days, Senator.

    July 27, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  6. Aaron

    McCain finally got a backbone against these loons that looney Americans keep electing. He might be sitting in the White House now if he'd gotten a backbone in 2008.....and passed on selecting that Palin idiot as his running mate and unleashing her and the billionaire Koch brothers on the American public.

    July 27, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  7. Sir Joe

    i hope that average Americans will take a step back and see what they voted to power. The tea party are really not interested in the welfare of the country but to do the bid of the rich. Defaulting on what has been for the past 70 years now will make no sense but inflict self destruction.
    Once again the few rich has hijacked and hold the country to ransom using bunch of idiots to carry out their plans

    July 27, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. FBMarky

    Someone forgot to give McCain his meds today.

    July 27, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. Candy Taylor

    Wow! thats the McCain from pre-Palin days. But he and others helped unleash this monster that they now can't control!

    July 27, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Dita

    Too bad you're speaking out at the 11th hour, Mr. McCain, but maybe those who live in fear of the teabaggers (I'm talking to you, Boehner) will listen to you.

    July 27, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. PhilG.

    McCains being too nice.

    At least,the hobbits worked together with the Fellowship of the Ring to get something important done on time.

    You Rock-Senator McCain for putting us poor folk first in this debate-thanks Senator-Soldier -Patriot.

    July 27, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. Sam

    too little too late, republicans have done the economy in again. and where is that brilliant presidential hopeful Romnut. So much for expierence.

    July 27, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. Kimo

    It's about time McCain got his mojo back.

    July 27, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. J & P

    Senator McCain,

    Please don't pressure and disparage the House Conservatives/TEA PARTY/Freshman Republicans into voting for PLAN XYZ. Stay with CUT, CAP, & BALANCE!! You have the upper hand against the liberal democrat socialists! Play it out! OBAMA and LEFT WING LIBERAL Democrats LOST IN NOVEMBER 2010 ELECTIONS. DONT cave in Please! The HOUSE Republicans WON in November 2010 don't compromise with the losers! Make them compromise and go along! Out last them. Their spending is the cause of default ......if it occurs which it won't.......unless Obama forces it to occur!!!

    J&P
    TAX WEARY US CITIZENS

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. AnaHadWolves

    John...all due respect, but...they're not "hobbits", they're "trolls". Big difference!

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. Dan Bednarik

    Bachman and the Tea Party should be governing soccer games and bake sales - If you think the Republicans are entering a political civil war, wait until Americans hit the streets.

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. Dave

    One has to wonder what Obama is doing, just residing in the White House and for the grins and giggles of being the President. He sure is not doing his job and leading the country. After becoming the President political party affiliation desolves and he is suppose to be the great leader and mediator between the two. I ask you one simple question, what has or is he doing to lead us out of the mess we are in?

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. Big A

    The Rich must be throwing plenty of money around, still no deal COLEWORLD 9-27-11

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. DrPete

    I'm still not sure he would've made much of a President, but he sure does have an ability to tell it like it is.

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Darster

    Sorry Mr. Maverick. Too little. Too late.

    July 27, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  21. oleoleo

    Took him long enough

    July 27, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. Tea Party Advocate

    I was for the Tea Party, but they gotta goooo... That was so funny that the Tea Party had a rally and 10's of people showed. Hilarious, but not so funny that only 33% of the country agree with them.. yikes.

    July 27, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  23. Bobba Fett

    McCain, you've been in government too long to insult the ones voted in to replace the likes of you.

    July 27, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. BD70

    The tea party hobbits better listen. Although McCain helped start this with Palin. The tea party does not represent those of us who know better. McCain is right...sad to say...but he is right none the less.

    July 27, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. Doug

    I wasn't going to vote for Obama, until McCain picked Palin. That was a crack pot idea,

    July 27, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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