US President Barack Obama was recently pulled into a heated debate with a prominent conservative Tea Party activist over remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden, allegedly calling Tea Party members ‘terrorists.’
As part of his three state bus tour, which also includes Minnesota and Illinois, Obama was approached by Ryan Rhodes, a leader of the group in Iowa, during an open-air town hall meeting.
Rhodes shouted out that the president’s calls for more civility in politics had little chance of coming to pass after “your vice president is calling people like me, a Tea Party member, a ‘terrorist.’”
The incident he is referring to stemmed from media reports that Vice President Joe Biden made some accusatory remarks in a private meeting with House of Representatives Democrats at the climax of a debt debate earlier this month.
It was obvious that Obama was prepared to nullify concerns as he replied, “I absolutely agree that everybody needs to try to tone down the rhetoric,” he said, before going on to detail some of the more explosive charges that conservatives have laid against him.
“In fairness, since I have been called a socialist who wasn’t born in this country, who is destroying America and taking away its freedoms because I passed a health care bill, I am all for lowering the rhetoric.”
Later, Obama and Rhodes had another exchange as the president greeted supporters on a rope line after the event, See video here. The activist later told reporters that he believed that Obama was indeed a socialist.
The Tea Party may lack centralized national leadership, but since 2010, has been regarded as a powerful influence on conservative Republican politics. This authority is considered by some, a key component of Republican leadership tactics in a debt showdown with Obama.