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A tea partier confronted Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain during a town hall meeting Monday with one simple request: Please apologize for calling us "hobbits."
Instead, McCain may have just made matters worse. "I am sorry if I was misunderstood," he told the constituent after a testy exchange, which can be seen on video below. "But I am not sorry for what I said. Why should I if it was a fact?""
At the the height of the debt ceiling battle last month, McCain read a Wall Street Journal editorial aloud on the Senate floor that slammed tea party-backed Republicans and called them "hobbits" for demanding a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution in return for their votes to raise the debt ceiling.
You can watch the video here:
McCain appeared on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News in late July to explain his comments, insisting that he meant no offense and that it was meant as a criticism of President Obama.
Obviously, not everyone bought it. Here's part of the exchange from the town hall:
Constituent: "What I'm here to do is ask you for your apology."
McCain: "What apology is in order?"
Constituent: "Because that was very clumsy of you"
McCain: "Was there anything wrong with what I said?"
Constituent: "Are you saying you're not apologizing?"
McCain: "I don't know what to apologize for."
Heard in the back: "For calling tea partiers hobbits!"
McCain: "What I said was true. It's unrealistic and unfair to the American people to tell them that we have to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution before we would act. If anyone misunderstood that then of course I would apologize. ... But it's not my fault if they misunderstood. ... I am sorry if I was misunderstood. But I am not sorry for what I said. Why should I if it was a fact?"