Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Homeland Security deputy secretary, said he was the victim Wednesday night at a Washington bar of a bigoted screaming jag and a challenge to fight from a prominent former Democratic presidential hopeful.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley lost control of his temper, apparently over immigration policy, and began using slurs against Italians, according to Mr. Cuccinelli’s account of the events at the Dubliner bar on Capitol Hill.
“Martin’s behavior was as sad as it was shocking,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in his account, which his spokesman provided Thursday to The Washington Times,
The Washington Post first reported the altercation based on a witness accounts excitedly proclaiming Mr. O’Malley’s “passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!” and claiming that Mr. Cuccinelli “pretty much retreated.” The Post headline said Mr. O’Malley “lit into” him.
Mr. Cuccinelli gave a different account, implying Mr. O’Malley was engaged in habitual public misbehavior, although he did not speculate on whether Mr. O’Malley was drunk or had another motive for behaving this way at a pub.
“I heard screaming and cussing behind me to my left … when I turned to look I saw O’Malley and he was obviously screaming at me. For a moment I thought he was trying to be funny, as we’ve met before,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.
“It was immediately clear that he was cursing and screaming for real, to the point of veins bulging on his neck. He also inspired one or two of his (apparent) buddies to join in the cussing assault,” he said.
After Mr. Cuccinelli said he left the area for another of the Dubiner’s bars, Mr. O’Malley played the Italian card.
“O’Malley pushed his way through the small group to confront me face to face, still cursing me, the President, and my Italian ancestry and he got right up in my face, bumped up against me and invited me to take a swing at him,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.
Mr. Cuccinelli’s reply, he told The Times, was: “Martin, one of us has to rise above this, and it’s obviously not going to be you.”
His claim of anti-Italian slurs was possibly corroborated by Siobhan Arnold, who told The Post that Mr. O’Malley said “something about [Mr. Cuccinelli’s] grandparents.”
The former Virginia attorney general said his former political opponent Steve Shannon, whom he called “a Democrat friend of mine,” engaged in “an attempt at de-escalation” by trying to force talk about families.
After Mr. Cuccinelli went to another area of the bar, where, he learned, Mr. O’Malley’s tirades were heard by the patrons in that area,
“I also learned from others who have known Martin for years that while his behavior was shocking, it was not new to them,” he said.
Both men are graduates of Gonzaga High School in the District and the Dubliner is a popular Gonzaga hangout.