South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy is pushing back on the notion that he is a “tea party congressman,” while reaffirming his “unabashed” support for the movement.
“The reason that I correct people when they call me that is that it just happens to be false,” Gowdy told a crowd last week at a speech hosted by a conservative student group at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. TheDC obtained video from the speech.
He compared himself with his former opponent Jim Lee, who announced his candidacy in front of the Greenville County Tea Party. Gowdy, who defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Bob Inglis with over 70 percent of the vote in 2010, never declared himself a ‘tea party candidate,’ but received heavy tea party support because of his platform.
“It would be disingenuous, in my judgment, for me to act like something I was not,” Gowdy said. “You can be very supportive of the tea party movement and still not allow the mainstream media to label you as something just because it happens to fit the label that they want you to have.”
“My response to all of that is I am enthusiastically supportive of what the tea party has done,” he said. “If you want to see where I am, look at my voting record.”
Gowdy also defended the tea party from the perception that the movement is responsible for Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the country’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.
He argued that just 14 of the 67 Tea Party Caucus members voted against House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling deal and that only one or two never voted to raise the debt limit.
“I decided to do something which doesn’t happen terribly often in Washington, which is, examine the facts,” he said. “There are 67 members of the Tea Party Caucus. Fourteen voted ‘no’ on John Boehner’s debt ceiling deal, which means 80-something percent voted ‘yes.'”
“So how can you possibly argue that the downgrade was brought about by the tea party?”