By Jackie Kucinich - 03/08/06 12:00 AM EST
The office of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) yesterday afternoon removed a claim on her website that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) had endorsed her after Tancredo’s office said it was not true.
Early in the afternoon yesterday, Schmidt’s homepage touted that Tancredo was publicly backing her: “Rep. Tom Tancredo — Chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus endorses Congresswoman Jean Schmidt and thanks her for her hard work to end ‘illegal’ immigration and protect American jobs.”
But Tancredo never endorsed Schmidt in her bid for reelection this year, said his spokesman, Will Adams.
“Congresswoman Schmidt and Congressman Tancredo recently met to discuss immigration,” Adams said. During the meeting, Schmidt joined the immigration-reform caucus but that was all that transpired, he said.
“There was no endorsement,” Adams said flatly. “We normally do not endorse out-of-state races.”
He added that while Tancredo had done so occasionally this was not one of those instances.
Adams attributed the mistake to a miscommunication.
Tancredo’s office contacted Schmidt’s and asked to have the item removed.
“Mrs. Schmidt had a meeting with Mr. Tancredo about his support for her,” said Schmidt spokesman John Ashbrook. “We understood it to be an endorsement.”
Shortly after The Hill called, the item was pulled from the site and replaced with the names of House GOP leaders who support her and the tentative dates they will be sponsoring events on her behalf.
Besides Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill), Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Ohio Republican Reps. Steve Chabot and Mike Turner are also listed as Schmidt backers.
Spokesmen for Boehner, Hastert and Turner confirmed their endorsements. Cantor and Chabot did not return calls for comment.
This is the latest gaffe for Schmidt, who narrowly won a special election in August 2005 against Democrat Paul Hackett to replace former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who left Congress to become the U.S. trade representative.
In November, Schmidt made national headlines and became the butt of a joke on “Saturday Night Live” when the House reacted raucously to her negative remarks about 17th-term Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) after he called for Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq.
During her speech, Schmidt relayed a message from Ohio state Rep. Danny Bubp, a Marine reservist.
“He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message — that cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” she said, drawing boos and jeers from her new colleagues.
Murtha is a decorated veteran who spent 37 years in the Marines and one of the most respected military authorities in Congress.
Schmidt withdrew her words later, before they could be “taken down,” in a parliamentary move, but she had already ignited a firestorm.
Bubp later said Schmidt misrepresented him during her speech.
Schmidt faces a primary in May against former Rep. Bob McEwen (R-Ohio) as well as a general election in November. She beat state Rep. Tom Brinkman and McEwen in an 11-candidate GOP primary in July for the nomination. Brinkman has since dubbed Schmidt “Mean Jean” and has called her a “pathological liar.”
Schmidt Chief of Staff Barry Bennett responded by calling Brinkman “the king of outrageous comments” and “a fringe player in politics in Cincinnati.”