Obama’s GOP Critics Say They Would Welcome President at Home

Posted April 5, 2010 at 8:55am

Conservative lawmakers known for fanning the flames of the tea party movement and its harsh rhetoric against President Barack Obama are, at the same time, some of the most giddy Members of Congress when it comes to the president swinging through their home states for a visit.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the leading voices among tea party protesters, stayed true to his form Friday in a Washington Times opinion piece as he bashed Obama for his “designs to shove America into the abyss of socialism.” His “philosophy, political power and cynical effort” to expand health care reform will be measured not just in dollars, “but in lost liberty,” King said.

But just a week earlier, King was gushing about Obama’s visit to Iowa to talk about health care reform.

“I want to thank President Obama for coming to Iowa, and I welcome him back to the Midwest. We always look forward to seeing Air Force One on Iowa soil. Anytime the sitting President of the United States visits your state, it is a good thing. President Obama recognizes that Iowa represents the heartland of America, and I commend him for his interest in our state,” King said in a statement.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), also a figurehead in the tea party movement, said last week she would “of course” welcome the opportunity to share the stage with Obama if he came through her home state, which is largely Democratic.

“I respect him and admire what he’s achieved,” Bachmann said, who said it would be exciting to have Obama on her home turf. “To think that the president would come to our state is — it’s an honor.”

In February, however, Bachmann issued a fiery fundraising letter in which she said Obama doesn’t just want to defeat conservatives, “he wants to annihilate us!” Bachmann signed off her letter by adding, “Remember, the more you can help today, the more damage we can do to Barack Obama’s socialist agenda. It’s just that simple.”

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), who last year was caught on video telling a constituent at a Labor Day tea party event that she agreed that Obama was ineligible for the presidency because he is not a citizen — a statement her office later said was taken out of context — said last week that everybody should be excited to have Obama come to their states.

“The most respected office in the world is the president of the United States. Anytime the president of the United States enters your territory, everybody should have a smile,” Schmidt said.

The split between the rhetoric of social conservatives and their desire to be affiliated with the most powerful leader in the country was even apparent in one of Obama’s most famous critics.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), best known for his “You lie!” outburst during Obama’s health care speech during a joint session of Congress last year, said he would welcome a visit from the president back home.

“We have respect for him,” Wilson said last week. “It’s always an honor when the president comes.”