A Column by Jill Kuraitis, 9-01-09
Rammell claims a call from the CIA; the agency says it never happened.
"I will not apologize for making an innocent comment," said Rex Rammell, Republican candidate for governor of Idaho.
Eastern Idaho veterinarian Rammell held a press conference in Boise this morning at which he defiantly refused to apologize for his remark about "Obama tags." I think. Rammell began by reading a press release out loud in which he denounced the Republican leaders who admonished him. He thinks they are overreacting, a theme which stayed with him to the end of the event. "Instead of tearing at my flesh like the political wolves that you are, over something as insignificant as a response to a jest taken out of context, why aren’t you doing something to make Idaho a better place to live?"
Rammell insisted that because his remark was "taken out of context" that he shouldn’t be condemned.
Local TV reporter: "So you’re not going to apologize?"
The reporter responded that Rammell apologized to him a few days ago and quotes Rammell’s remark.
Rammell: "Yes and I’ll stand by that."
Reporter: "So you’re sorry, or you’re not sorry?"
Other reporters tried to get clarification about the apology-or-not confusion, but Rammell didn’t clear it up.
Rammell: "If people think I want to assassinate President Obama, I’ll apologize for that all day long. That is not my intention," Rammell said. "But I will not apologize for making an innocent comment."
NewWest: "What would you say to schoolchildren in Idaho who heard that you said this kind of thing?"
Rammell: "Well, um, school children should have their parents to explain to them that sometimes jokes are taken out of context and become bigger than they should. Mountains are made out of molehills and that’s exactly what happened in this case."
NewWest: "You don’t think a parent should say we don’t talk like that, ever, about any president?"
Rammell: "Oh, it’d be okay, looking in hindsight, to say you know, we really shouldn’t joke about these things, because see what it can do?" (He meant the fuss over his comment.)
NewWest: "Are you sorry? Would you apologize to the children of Idaho?"
Rammell: "I didn’t do anything wrong, Jill. I was being polite to the lady that said it. You’d have to have been there to understand the context of the whole thing. That’s what’s wrong with this. The only people condemning me were the people who weren’t there."
NewWest: "Is there a context that’s appropriate for saying that kind of thing?"
Rammell: (defiantly) "Yeah, the one I was in. But you wouldn’t know, because you weren’t there."
Reporter Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review brought up the schoolchildren in Rexburg who chanted "assassinate Obama."
Rammell: "Apples and oranges – kids don’t joke. I mean, they were mislead – I’m assuming probably by their parents. You take an adult like me that’s running for office, mine was purely purely meant in jest. No harm intended. I think the kids were probably pretty serious." He said if he responded today he’d tell the children not to do that.
Russell: "Couldn’t incidents like the chanting have led to the remark by the lady?" [at the barbeque who make the remark to which Rammell responded]
Rammell answered by talking about animosity toward President Obama and his policies: "Yes there is underlying animosity and I think that’s what came out in those comments. To openly suggest we want to harm the President of the United States, only the people that weren’t at the barbeque could read that into those comments."
NewWest: "Do you think that the casual way in which the exchange happened could influence someone else down the road to think it’s okay to speak casually that way about the President?"
Rammell: "I think there’s been such a big deal made out of it I think people are going to be pretty careful. I had no idea it would be blown out of proportion to this extent. It really was an insignificant comment in my opinion...and the people that were there. This country is so sensitive...they just don’t know how to respond to a little humor."
TV reporter: "We might be sensitive because we’ve had a lot of political assassinations..."
Rammell: "...not recently...when was the last assassination attempt?"
Reporter: "Well, there was Ford, there was Ronald Reagan..."
Rammell: "That’s a long time ago."
NewWest: "....why won’t you step up to the plate and say I never should have said that?"
Rammell: "I’ll tell you the main reasons why I won’t apologize, it’s because of the over the top comments by the GOP leaders. That infuriates me. They’re the ones....because of their condemnation of a simple comment taken out of context I refuse to apologize. If you want to blame someone for me not apologizing, you blame Otter, Simpson, Crapo, Risch and Batt."
TV reporter: "So you haven’t apologized. I’m not sure where you’re at on this, you did say you were sorry..."
Rammell: "I am not sorry for saying the comment; I am sorry that everybody took it incorrectly."
Asked about Idaho getting a "black eye" from his remarks, Rammell was scornful: "Give me a break, I don’t buy into that at all."
NW: "There are thousands of people who would disagree with you...."
RR: "Yeah, most of them from the hard left. I’ve been getting their emails, they are hard left, people, that are so defensive...you can’t even mention his name without them crying hate."
Rammell said that the CIA contacted him and wanted to interview the woman from the barbeque, and that an agent talked to him about his remark. Rammell said the agent was ordered to check it out. The Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey questioned whether it was really the CIA, which "doesn’t have authority over domestic matters. You sure it was the CIA? Did he call you? Phoned you? Could it have been a hoax?"
RR: "Oh, no, this guy was legit."
Popkey: "What was his name? What was the CIA agent’s name?"
RR: "You know I probably shouldn’t say, out of respect for him."
The CIA’s press office says that nobody from their agency has spoken to Rammell.
Rammell told a story about his lawyer getting a phone call threatening Rammell if he didn’t drop his bid for governor: "The morning I announced he said Rex, I promised to keep this confidential, but I received a phone call that said if you run to be the governor of Idaho, these people are going to destroy you. Maybe you oughta reconsider."
Rammell said he told his lawyer he wouldn’t reconsider because somebody ought to do something about cronyism and corruption.
He said he "assumed" the call came from the office of one of the leaders who condemned his statement.
Popkey asked why Rammell’s attorney wouldn’t tell him who the call came from.
Again, Rammell told of his assumptions (which won’t be repeated here because Rammell offered no proof.) "I’m telling you, these guys are worried about me!"
Even though this report isn’t the entire transcript of the press conference, it’s enough to illustrate the general direction it took.
"Wolves tearing at my flesh?" The CIA called me? Threats from other unnamable telephone callers? GOP leaders want to destroy me because they fear me?
Source: The online news site, NewWest.Net/Boise
Article Link: http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/rammell_its_gop_leaders_fault_that_i_refuse_to_apologize/C108/L
Reprinted with permission.