YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Obama confronted after town hall by 'tea party' activist

August 16, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • Iowa "tea party" activist Ryan Rhodes asks President Obama a question about whether Vice President Joe Biden likened tea party activists to terrorists during the debt-ceiling talks.
Iowa "tea party" activist Ryan Rhodes asks President Obama… (Jim Watson/AFP )

Reporting from Decorah, Iowa — President Obama heard from critics on both the right and the left at his town-hall event in Decorah on Monday evening.

An Iowa "tea party" activist, Ryan Rhodes, confronted Obama after the event to speak to him whether Vice President Joe Biden during the debt-ceiling talks in Washington compared tea-party affiliated lawmakers to terrorists.

Rhodes first brought up the question during the town hall and then approached the president afterward and the two got into a heated exchange. (Watch video below.)

He complained to Fox News afterward that Obama had not addressed the question whether Biden actually made the remarks. Reports at the time had another member of Congress, Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, actually saying the word “terrorists” and Biden agreeing. But the vice president's office denied that Biden ever used the term.

“He just denied it. He said the vice president didn't make any of those assertions,” Rhodes said. “If he doesn’t want to even admit what was on TV nationally -- all over the place -- then how can you have a conversation?”

Obama also faced criticism during the event from Emily Neal of Decorah, who openly questioned his negotiating skills with Republicans and asked whether the president had abandoned liberals in the healthcare and debt-ceiling fights and in extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

The president responded by saying that the political reality of governing had forced him to make choices.

“My job as president goes beyond just winning the political argument. I’ve got a whole bunch of responsibilities, which means I have to make choices sometimes that are unattractive and I know will be bad for me politically and I know will get supporters of mine disappointed,” he said.

Later, he added, “The bottom line is we’re moving in the right direction. But I know it’s frustrating, because the other side is unreasonable.  And you don’t want to -- you don’t want to reward unreasonableness. Look, I get that. But sometimes you’ve got to make choices in order to do what’s best for the country at that particular moment, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Los Angeles Times Articles