Politics

GOP aides cite rudeness and cursing from Obama-pushed health-care calls

Jonathan Strong Contributor

President Obama’s political arm, Organizing For America, says it’s “powered by hope.” But for Republican congressional aides on the other end of its phone calls, it feels like it may be powered by sailors with a blue streak.

Four GOP aides told The Daily Caller they’ve borne the brunt of cursing and insults from phone callers sent their way from Organizing for America, which they identified as part of the same class of callers because individuals started calls by reading from a script hundreds of others also did.

One aide, who works for a California Republican, says he was called “every name in the book” in the run-up to the health-care vote. “I don’t endorse” any of the over-the-top threats and other things opponents to the health-care bill have said to congressional offices, the source said, “but people ought to at least know we were dealing with the same thing.”

Other aides shared less dramatic accounts. A staffer who works for a powerful appropriations committee Republican said, “it was a mixed bag” – the majority of callers simply read the script but a few that chose to debate “became belligerent,” including swearing at aides and calling them liars.

A staffer who works for a Virginia congressman in a safe district said there were hundreds of calls but callers were mostly notable for their lack of information about the issue. They seemed “confused,” the source said.

Notably, a spokesman for Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, widely considered the most endangered Republican incumbent because he represents a highly Democratic district, said Cao did not receive a large number of calls in support of health-care reform. Cao had voted for an earlier version of the legislation, but voted against the final bill that Obama signed into law Tuesday. “We had a much livelier reaction” from callers when Cao voted for the bill, the spokesman told The Daily Caller.

At offices that received many calls forwarded from Organizing for America, aides said the callers all read from a simple script saying they favored the president’s health-care bill. Occasionally, callers would note they were forwarded by the political organization behind the calls.

Organizing for America officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

Besides the acrimony, the sheer number of calls made the situation hectic. Another aide describes “phones ringing off the hook … the House phone lines were jammed Wednesday through Friday last week … I was getting e-mails from lobbyists asking me to call them and then transfer them internally to other offices. It was nuts.”