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Marsha Blackburn: Biden needs to 'rethink' comments about 'resilient' and 'resourceful' Neanderthals

Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha Blackburn2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border Bottom line MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday chided President BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE for criticism he issued the day before saying Republican governors rescinding public health measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus to were engaged in "Neanderthal thinking."

Biden was asked Wednesday about decisions from state executives in Texas and Mississippi to lift their mask mandates and capacity limits for local businesses. 

"I hope everybody's realized by now these masks make a difference," Biden said from the Oval Office. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we're able to get vaccines in people's arms."

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"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it," he added. "It still matters."

Blackburn, a critic of so-called lockdown measures, mask ordinances and other public health mandates, suggested she and other Republicans are more than used to derogatory barbs from Democrats and media. 

"We were called Neanderthals when I led the fight against imposition of a state income tax," Blackburn said during an appearance on the Fox Business Network's "Varney & Co." "I started the Neanderthal caucus. Because Neanderthals are hunters-gatherers ... they are protectors of their families. They are resilient, they are resourceful. They tend to their own." 

The senator said Biden should "rethink what he is saying about the states that are starting to move away from these mask mandates." 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Wednesday defended his decision to remove the state's mask mandate following Biden's attack. 

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“Mississippians don’t need handlers," he said. "As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.” 

During a briefing with reporters on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden, Japan's PM focus on China, North Korea in first bilateral meeting Castro confirms he's stepping down as Cuban leader White House reverses course on refugee cap after Democratic eruption MORE attempt to clarify the president's quip. 

"The behavior of a Neanderthal ... just to be clear, the behavior of," Psaki told reporters. "What we saw yesterday was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation that I think many American people have, that for almost a year now people across the country have sacrificed and many of times they haven't had the information they need from the federal government." 

Republicans such as Blackburn argue mask mandates and prolonged stay-at-home orders or shutdown mandates for businesses are not worth the harmful economic impact to states and local communities. 

"In Tennessee, we have a lot of people that are moving away from mask mandates," she said. "Our budget is in good shape. Our kids are back in school, people are going back to work. ... We are going to lead the way out from this pandemic."