Republican Rep. Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip GingreyEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street 2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare MORE (Ga.) walked out of President Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, his spokeswoman confirmed to The Hill.
Jen Talaber said the five-term lawmaker "left quietly" in the middle of the president's remarks.
“He was disturbed and offended by the president’s use of prayer and reflection time for partisan politics and class warfare,” Talaber said. “Rep. Gingrey enjoyed listening to the keynote speaker and found the breakfast to be inspiring until President Obama began politicking.”
At the breakfast, Obama tried to tie some of the proposals from his State of the Union address, such as everyone paying their fair share in taxes, to Biblical teachings.
“When I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it’ll make the economy stronger for everybody,” Obama said. “But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Talaber said Gingrey listened to several minutes of the speech before he “slipped out” because he found the perceived politicking “inappropriate.”
“There are 364 other days a year in which to do that,” she said. “While he commends the president for his attendance, Rep. Gingrey wanted to hear what was in his heart and not campaign rhetoric. He was disappointed that the president seemed to be unaware of the reason so many gathered there today.”
Talaber said she didn’t know if any other lawmakers followed Gingrey’s example, but that he wasn’t trying to “rally” other members to do so.
Republicans have charged that Obama's policies interfere with religious liberty.
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Obama was waging a “war on religion." And Conservative groups and the Catholic Church are furious with the administration's failure to exempt most faith-affiliated organizations, such as Catholic hospitals, from a provision that requires employers to cover birth control without out-of-pocket costs to employees.