Rep. Eric Massa's (D-N.Y.) shot at White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel earned news headlines on Monday, but it stemmed from a feud that began during the 2006 campaign.
The congressman, who voted against the Democrats' healthcare reform bill, lashed out at Emanuel during his weekly radio show on Sunday after he announced last week he would resign from Congress amid an ethics investigation into an inappropriate remark he allegedly made to a staffer.
"Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil's spawn," Massa said. "He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive."
Massa has claimed that his retirement is due to a recurrence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, not the ethics probe. The congressman suggested, though, that Democratic leaders coaxed the investigation because of his vote against the healthcare overhaul.
Turning back the clock nearly four years, Massa was a retired Naval officer running for Congress against then-Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.), who represented the traditionally Republican 29th district in upstate New York.
Massa, who narrowly lost that race but beat Kuhl in 2008, was reportedly unhappy with Emanuel, then an Illinois congressman who headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
He thought Emanuel was not doling out enough cash for his campaign and expressed frustration that Emanuel was trying to tone down what he thought was Massa's angry stump speech rhetoric.
A 2006 documentary titled "Taking the Hill" captured some of Massa's qualms with Emanuel.
The Hill reported at the time:
In one such scene, Emanuel has just paid Massa a visit. He pulls aside the candidate - who admittedly has a hard time containing his, well, we'll call it passion - and instructs him to "take it down a notch," as though admonishing a small child. When Massa doesn't heed Emanuel's warnings, the chairman gives him another one: "You gotta raise $200,000 each month for the next four months, otherwise it ain't gonna happen."
Emanuel continues advising Massa: "Second thing, smile. Have fun. Do you ever remember a person not likable winning? Be likable."
Later in the car, speaking with former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), who serves as a mentor to the veterans throughout the campaign season, Massa relays his interaction with Emanuel. "Rahm Emanuel thinks I'm uptight," Massa says.
To which Cleland replies, "F-k 'im."
Here is a segment of the documentary: