Hatch Apologizes After Calling Obamacare Supporters ‘Dumbass People’
Updated Fri., March 2, 3:50 p.m.:
Sen. Orrin Hatch is apologizing for an expletive-laden rant against supporters of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Hatch made the comments on Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
“[We] finally did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called Obamacare,” Hatch said in a video posted online. “Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic. That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen."
“Some of you may have loved it,” he added. “If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met.”
In a statement on Friday, Hatch called the comments "a poorly worded joke" that was "not reflective of my actual feelings towards my friends on the other side."
He said his legislative record reflects his commitment to bipartisanship and civility much more than his "flippant, off-the-cuff comment."
Hatch, who is retiring at the end of his term, spent most of his AEI speech praising the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress late last year.
Utah’s senior senator was quickly criticized for the comment.
“This is disappointing,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, a Democrat, said in a tweet. “We can disagree on policy (and when it comes to the #ACA, we do) but name calling is never appropriate in public discourse.”
“The comments were obviously made in jest, but what’s not a joke is the harm Obamacare has caused for countless Utahns,” Hatch’s spokesman, Matt Whitlock told the Deseret News.
Hatch has said recently he wants to see more civility in politics.
"Although nowhere mandated in our Constitution, civility is no less essential to the proper functioning of our government than any amendment, court ruling or act of Congress," Hatch wrote in a Time op-ed last year. "Without it, little separates us from the cruelty and chaos of rule by force.