House races

GOP lawmaker to local editor: ‘You’re looking at me funny’

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Vulnerable Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) accused the top editor of a newspaper of looking at him “funny” during an interview with the publication’s editorial board.

“Well, you’re looking at me funny. I mean, I don’t appreciate that. I don’t appreciate that. That’s kinda condescending. I don’t appreciate it,” Blum, a freshman lawmaker, told Brian Cooper, the executive editor of the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa.

{mosads}The bizarre exchange, audio of which was posted online, followed tough questioning from the editorial board about Blum’s controversial tweet this spring wishing an economic recession on Washington, D.C.

The photo that accompanied his tweet was a private redevelopment project along the city’s Southwest waterfront.

“Washington DC is booming. Tower cranes everywhere. Being built on the backs of US taxpayers. DC needs a recession,” Blum wrote in a tweet, which generated national headlines and a backlash from D.C. residents and business owners.

In his meeting with the Dubuque paper, Blum doubled down on his remarks that Washington needed to experience a recession, arguing that the federal government is bloated.

“Yes. Yes. Federal government needs a recession. Correct. Yeah,” Blum, a software company executive, told the paper.

Cooper said he doesn’t know what exactly triggered Blum’s response.

“I suspect I was looking puzzled, surprised, or perhaps stunned, that trying to ask the question — even noting that he returned $100k+ of his budget to the Treasury — launched the lengthy attack on us,” Cooper wrote in an email to The Hill. “But I wasn’t gesturing, throwing body language, sighing, etc. So I don’t know.”

“I certainly wasn’t intending to be disrespectful, even in the face of his accusations regarding our ethics and fairness,” added Cooper, who has known Blum for more than two decades. Blum also previously wrote a regular column for his hometown paper.

The Telegraph Herald endorsed Blum during his successful 2014 race, but the congressman said during the interview he didn’t recall the endorsement.

Throughout the interview, Blum repeatedly attacked the press for reporting critical stories about his recession remark, as well as the $100,000 his office has spent on constituent mailings. At one point, he went on a long rant about coverage of his reelection race, which will pit him against either Monica Vernon or Pat Murphy this fall.

“It’s very frustrating when the media is like a Pavlovian dog and they get these emails from the Democrat Party …  and they decide, ‘Oh, this, Rod’s tweet about tower cranes is news! This is big news! We should run a story about this.’ Or, ‘Hey the Democrat party says he’s not holding enough town hall meetings.’ Or, ‘The Democrat Party said ‘Where’s he at, the first week in August?’ I was on a family vacation, first one in five years, but you know. Uh, these are news stories! This is news!” Blum said to the paper.

“Not ‘are we balancing the budget,’ not the federal deficit, not ‘is ISIS going to come over here,’ not securing the southern border, not solving Medicare and Social Security. No. ‘Is Rod Blum holding enough town hall meetings?’ The horror of that. Unbelievable.”

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