Republican congressman: GOP can seem like 'knuckle-dragging Neanderthals'
December 17th, 2013
04:37 PM ET
8 years ago

Republican congressman: GOP can seem like 'knuckle-dragging Neanderthals'

(CNN) - Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin indicated his party could adopt a more delicate tone to better communicate its message.

"From my perspective, and I come from a very 50-50 district in central and northern Wisconsin, you have people on our side of the aisle that have a really abrasive tone. We can come across as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on occasion," Duffy said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Duffy also said 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's infamous 47% comments - indicating nearly half of the U.S. population is dependent on government service and would therefore automatically vote for a Democrat - alienated a significant portion of voters and made GOP's candidate "unrelatable."

Duffy is far from the first Republican to indicate that certain members of the party should temper their message.

After Romney failed to grab the White House for the GOP, the Republican National Committee has actively worked to change its tone and message to appeal to more women and minorities who helped deliver the election to Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner said earlier this month that some House Republicans "...just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be," when asked about recent efforts by the House GOP campaign arm to improve how male candidates appeal to female voters.

The two-term congressman was first elected in a wave of tea party support in 2010. Prior to serving Wisconsin's 7th district, Duffy was a reality TV star on MTV's "The Real World: Boston" and "Real World/Road Rules Challenge," as well as a county district attorney.

Duffy appeared on MSNBC with his wife Rachel Campos-Duffy, also a former reality TV star, who he met while filming "Real World/Road Rules Challenge."

Filed under: House Republicans • Sean Duffy
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    What say you, tom l? Smith? Rick McDaniels? Would you agree with Duffy's inward look?

    December 17, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I smell a primary coming.

    December 17, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "We can come across as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on occasion,"

    ...Duffy said while using a sliver of flint to rough-cut a thin stick to a good length for dipping into an anthill....

    December 17, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Well, if Boehner, Peter King, this guy Duffy, and others had said this 2, 3, 4, and more years ago, I might believe them.
    But it started the day of President Obama's first inauguration and hasn't let up.
    So, this is too little, too late.

    Filibusters, outrageous comments, birthers, shut-downs, threats to replace, repeal, defund the ACA, the
    list is too long for some of us to believe they are serious. They took a hit from Cruz & Co's tactics , and
    now they want to "change". Sorry, Duffy, you are a tea party darling, and I don't trust any of you.

    December 17, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    He was only speaking the truth besides for the fact that they act like Neanderthals ALL the time.

    December 17, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "We need to find a kinder, gentler way to tell women that they shouldn't have reproductive freedoms, that gay people should be flogged and sent to Canada and that minorities' voting rights are terribly inconvenient to us."

    December 17, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Duffy is far from the first Republican to indicate that certain members of the party should temper their message."

    And a hell of a lot of good its done trying to explain the collateral damage their "messaging" has caused. Apparently the RNC has decided to run on a two message platform: one message for one set of voters and another message for the other set of voters. Thereby continuing to run their clown car ever more close to the proverbial cliff.

    December 17, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Republicans still don't get it. It isn't the messenger or how nice you try to package the message. The conservative message is what turns off voters. Just look at the poll numbers and rapidly changing demographics of voters.

    December 17, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Consistency folks. Consistency. As a former Republican voting for Obama, I had a fairly clear idea where his ideologies stood. As a former Republican, voting for McCain or Romney or any other Republican since 2008 made me uncomfortable; I have no idea where each of their ideologies would (or will) carry them politically.

    I tend to fault these wishy-washy candidates for their own shortcomings by NOT taking the chance of voting for them on a "wait and see" basis of will they or won't they.

    December 17, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. ghostwriter

    And that's being extremely generous.

    December 17, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. ghostwriter

    I recall in Jan 2011, when republicans were put in charge of the House. They screamed, "Cut, cut, cut!" What they said quietly was keep the spending on an F-22 program that the Dept of Defense isn't too keen on.....because it resides in our Speaker's district.

    And they haven't stopped looking ridiculous since.

    December 17, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    This is a man who lamented that he's struggling to make ends meet on his $174K congressional salary and ridiculously nice benefits package

    December 17, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Peppy

    @ Tommy p, settle down, It must really be a bummer to be so naïve as to of believed in Oblameo. Its ok tommy p just learn from your mistakes. This guy is even worse than Carter

    December 17, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Winning

    I consider myself to be a moderate with some conservative leaning fiscal views, liberal views on what government can and should do, and views that I think both sides having to do with the idea that government, regardless of its size should be nimble, responsive, efficient, and accountable.

    There is nothing in the conservative platform that will attract my vote with those facts being what they are. Conservative fiscal views are rigid; they will examine one and only one option in regards to the deficit and debt: cut spending. Their views on environmental regulation are abhorrent to me. Their views on a responsive, nimble government? They have none because their entire philosophy presupposes that it cannot happen. Therefore they never even try, they just cut and cut, which actually makes things worse because the cuts are never done with increased efficiency and responsiveness as the goal.

    December 17, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Lisa P.

    "From my perspective, and I come from a very 50-50 district in central and northern Wisconsin..."

    Less 50-50 now since the Republican-dominated WI Legislature gerrymandered it to keep the district "safe" for the GOP. Unless Rep. Duffy means 50% Tea Party, 50% Republicans who can actually think? Ironic if being in a "safe" district means that Rep. Duffy now has to reach out to Democrats and independents if he wants to be re-elected. If so you're gonna have to bring more to the table than that dumb TV show, Rep. Duffy. Your district is also 50% female, and they're tired of your GOP celebrity stripper dance garbage while the wages and the jobs and the social support and the health clinics and the schools and the environment and the fundamental human right to control our own bodies and lives are quietly stripped away by your political buddies in the State capitol.

    December 17, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. don in albuquerque

    @Peppy-No probably the worst are those people who are naive enough to want to keep this country from moving forward. Worse then Carter how? Carter did not fill thousands upon thousands of graves with his lies. Sound like anyone we know? Oblameo? A great deal of people in the world are still blaming that nameless president to the point that many would like to see him tried for war crimes. Yes, it must be a real bummer to be you and being able to ignore fact.

    December 17, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. king

    hey i think dems should leave that unemployment benefits alone, because every time they bend over to help the american people, they get clobbered. anytime the economy picks up, the president and the dems are clobbered. i always say that the repubs superior propaganda apparatus is way too strong for the dems. i think the dems should take a lead from the repubs and sit on the side lines until after the election. it will be a bad election but the the president wont be going anywhere until 2010. this will be another 2010 election folks. that will show them dems what it means to fight for the American people.

    December 17, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. rob

    Well Rep Duffy you just locked in appearances on every Sunday morning network talk show, CNN, HLN, MSNBC again and even Fox. He'll probably get a Opinion piece in the NYT well.

    I have news for you Rep Duffy as you spout what the liberal media is begging for the Unions in Wisc and the media are cooking up some very unpleasant TV ads attacking you. Republican's who try to appease the liberal media and their "Friends" on the other side by saying, " his party could adopt a more delicate tone to better communicate its message." are being played as FOOLS. The Dems and the Media don't care about your "tone" they hate your message and they HATE YOU. They will use you as long as they need to and then unleash all their lies, smears and vitriol to defeat you.

    December 17, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Grift, so simple a caveman can do it.

    December 17, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |

    The Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts all scream "RINO" in unison. 2014 comes quickly for them all.

    December 17, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. rs

    I dunno. Neanderthals made tools, developed art, and ceremonially buried their dead. Australopithecus per chance?

    December 17, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. tom l

    @The Real TP,
    "What say you, tom l? Smith? Rick McDaniels? Would you agree with Duffy's inward look"


    He makes valid points. The main reason I consider myself a libertarian and not a republican is due to social issues (there are other reasons but let's stay focused on this for now). I definitely think they are too focused on issues like abortion and gay marriage. I think that if they were smart (which they're not), they wouldn't talk about anything but the ACA and the weak economy. I would talk about the labor participation rate and how dismal that is. I would talk about how the jobs that people are getting are minimum wage jobs and not more career oriented jobs (however you can definitely make a career out of a job where you start at minimum wage and that point is very important to make) I would focus on not only the implementation of the ACA, but the law in its entirety. I would hone in on comments like this: "“It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier, which is we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.” That's what President Obama said.
    I would focus on the govt growing bigger and becoming more and more a part of our lives through laws like the ACA.

    So, yes indeed, he has valid points. I could say a lot more but that's good enough for now... 😉

    December 17, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  23. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @ Tommy p, settle down, It must really be a bummer to be so naïve as to of believed in Oblameo. Its ok tommy p just learn from your mistakes. This guy is even worse than Carter

    Hey Peppy Baby... Chill... I would love to see a national poll to see how the American people feel about George W. Bush and how he stacks up against Carter or Obama. My bet is that he would rate among the lowest of the low.

    December 17, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  24. HenryMiller

    No, not "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals." More like "superstitious bible-thumpers." But, even at that, Republicans are generally more sensible than mushy-headed, vindictive, soak-anyone-who's-actually-working, Democrats.

    December 17, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. Liz the First

    When will they learn it's not how they deliver their message, it IS THEIR MESSAGE? they are a party built on fear, greed, and hate. their stand on social issues is heartless, un-American and un-Christlike. their fiscal policy is shortsighted and cruel and a proven (many times over) failure. they have managed to insult everyone except rich, white, straight males. and they wonder why their party is going in the toilet? quick, America, flush before it manages to climb out!

    December 17, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
1 2