A Fox News affiliate in Kansas City interviewed Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (h/t Greg Re at the Daily Caller), a Missouri Democrat, about the alleged spitting incident that many claim happened to him when he was walking to the Capitol during the final days of the health care debate in the House. A number of Democrats and liberal organizations are calling the incident an attack or assault, but Mr. Cleaver seems to be backing away from the story in general. Fox News reports:
“I haven’t talked about this incident on TV or anywhere, and I’ve been approached to talk about it on every national TV show,” said Rep. Cleaver in an interview with FOX 4 News. “I never, I never reported anything, never a single thing in Washington, not one thing. People assume I went somewhere, never done press conference, never done an interview on it and I’m not going to do it.”
Rep. Cleaver’s refusal to discuss the incident has not stopped the speculation, including claims that the incident never happened, or that the story was manufactured to discredit conservatives who demonstrated against health care reform.
Rep. Cleaver says that he wants to put the incident behind him.
“All I’m saying is we all have to diffuse it, and I think it is not in my best interest or in the best interest of this nation to stoke it,” said Rep. Cleaver. “I’ve avoided doing and I will continue to do it.”
However, the incident was peddled to the Washington, D.C. media initially saying the the so-called spitter was arrested, but the story later changed, and it was learned that someone had been detained instead. The Huffington Post posted a March 22nd statement from Mr. Cleaver’s office immediately following the incident that appears to contradict the Missouri Democrat’s most recent remarks:
For many of the members of the CBC, like John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver who worked in the civil rights movement, and for Mr. Frank who has struggled in the cause of equality, this is not the first time they have been spit on during turbulent times.
This afternoon, the Congressman was walking into the Capitol to vote, when one protester spat on him. The Congressman would like to thank the US Capitol Police officer who quickly escorted the others Members and him into the Capitol, and defused the tense situation with professionalism and care. After all the Members were safe, a full report was taken and the matter was handled by the US Capitol Police. The man who spat on the Congressman was arrested, but the Congressman has chosen not to press charges. He has left the matter with the Capitol Police.
This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the “n” word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans. That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting. He looks forward to taking a historic vote on health care reform legislation tomorrow, for the residents of the Fifth District of Missouri and for all Americans. He believes deeply that tomorrow’s vote is, in fact, a vote for equality and to secure health care as a right for all. Our nation has a history of struggling each time we expand rights. Today’s protests are no different, but the Congressman believes this is worth fighting for.
During his Fox interview Mr. Clever said, But Rep. Cleaver that if the spitting incident hadn’t been caught on tape, no one would have ever known because he wouldn’t have made it an issue. Actually, it seems that if the incident was not caught on tape, most would have simply accepted that the Missouri Democrat was indeed attacked, because why would a Congressman tell such a story?