White House spokesman Jay Carney and Vice President Joe Biden are refuting reports from Monday that Biden said Republicans “acted like terrorists” during the debt-ceiling debate.
“He didn’t say those words,” said Carney during a Tuesday White House briefing. “Any kind of comments like that are simply not conducive to the kind of political discourse that we hope to have.”
On Monday evening, Biden himself denied the report, which was first published in Politico.
Biden told CBS News, “I did not use the terrorism word.” During a Capitol Hill meeting of Democrats on Monday, Biden said, “there were some people who said they felt like they were being held hostage by terrorists … I never said that they were terrorists or weren’t terrorists, I just let them vent.”
Politico reported that Biden heard fellow Democrats complain about GOP legislators sympathetic to the Tea Party’s small-government goals, and that he responded by saying those Republicans “have acted like terrorists.”
The Politico report and other reports prompted complaints from numerous GOP politicians, including Sarah Palin and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“Vice President Biden more than crossed a line today when he called fiscal conservatives “terrorists,” Priebus tweeted on Monday. “I demand an apology.” (RELATED: Obama shifts focus to jobs and taxes, away from debt talks)
Carney did say a congressman’s statement, to which Biden allegedly responded, “was the product of an emotional discussion, [of] very passionately held positions in this debate.”
When pressed about Biden’s specific statements, Carney declined to comment, saying “lowering the temperature in general is a good thing … I think I’ve said all I can about that.”
In an impromptu press conference after the Monday meeting, Biden said Democratic legislators “expressed all their frustration … I thought it was a good meeting and I feel confident that this [frustration] will pass.”
But Biden also echoed some Democrats’ claims that GOP legislators threatened the nation while seeking spending cuts. “There is a sword of Damocles hanging over us [and] this is the debt limit and it was used as the means by which, unless certain compromises were made, we would default on our debt,” Biden told reporters.
The vice president also complained about the GOP’s use of a government debt default as negotiating leverage, comparing it to the employment of a weapon of mass destruction. He told CBS that during Monday’s meeting, “I said … you now have taken and paid the debt [so] the nuclear weapon’s been taken out of anyone’s hands.”