Rep. Dan Crenshaw apologizes for calling anti-McCarthy GOP colleagues 'terrorists': 'Things get heated and things get said'

Dan Crenshaw
Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
  • Dan Crenshaw on Sunday walked back earlier comments where he called anti-McCarthy Republicans "terrorists."

  • On CNN's "State of the Union," Crenshaw said he wanted to "sincerely apologize" to his colleagues.

  • "I don't want them to think I actually believe they're terrorists," he told host Jake Tapper.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw on Sunday walked back comments that he made last week where he blasted several of his GOP colleagues as "terrorists" after their initial refusal to back Kevin McCarthy's House speakership bid.

During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," the Texas Republican explained to host Jake Tapper that the party's infighting had been "heated" last week, while also stating that he did not intend to describe McCarthy objectors as actual terrorists.

"Things get heated and things get said," Crenshaw said. "Obviously, to the people who took offense by that, it's pretty obvious that it's meant as a turn of phrase. It's in the context of intransigent negotiations."

"Look, I've got pretty thick skin. I'm called awful, vile things by the very same wing of the party that I was fighting at that moment, so I was a little taken aback by the sensitivity of it," he continued to say. "To the extent that I have colleagues that were offended by it, I sincerely apologize to them. I don't want them to think I actually believe they're terrorists. It's clearly a turn of phrase that you use in what is an intransigent negotiation."

Crenshaw last week had been deeply critical of the conservative anti-McCarthy holdouts, telling Fox News Radio that the party "cannot let the terrorists win."

Sen. Ted Cruz — a fellow Texas Republican — criticized the use of the word "terrorists" during a Friday episode of his podcast, "Verdict with Ted Cruz."

"My view is 'settle down.' This will work out and it'll be fine," the senator said of the leadership battle at the time. "That kind of overheated rhetoric, calling people 'terrorists,' is not terribly conducive to anything resembling Republican unity. It's not conducive to having strong leadership for the next two years in the House, engaging in vitriol and personal attacks."

After 15 rounds of balloting, where McCarthy was opposed by an array of conservative lawmakers, the Californian broke through on Saturday and won the speakership vote 216-212 over Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

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