The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently portrayed Republican U.S. House candidate Lee Zeldin as a "coward" on its website for refusing to oppose Paul Ryan’s budget. To illustrate this they posted a picture of Zeldin’s face on the body of the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
But it just so happens that Zeldin is an Iraq War veteran, hardly the profile of a coward. So on Friday morning, he appeared on Fox and Friends and hit back hard at his Democratic opponents. When asked his reaction to being called a coward, Zeldin responded:
Well, you have some liberal Democrat hack who is hiding behind his Twitter account, stuffs his face with cheese doodles, sending out press releases on DCCC letterhead, shameful attacks. And the fact is Nancy Pelosi, Steve Israel, Tim Bishop, they've never served a day, and I think when I was sitting at the door on that Blackhawk and the drill master hits the back of your head, and you do what's so unnatural, jumping out with your parachute, here you are, fast forward to today and you have these Democratic hacks out of Washington who want to change the subject and fling insults, saying that I'm a coward. It just doesn't fit.
This DCCC smear has not been covered thus far by any broadcast or cable channels other than Fox News. Zeldin is running to try and replace six-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Tim Bishop in New York’s 1st congressional district.
Below is a transcript of the full segment:
BRIAN KILMEADE: You're not going to believe this, but Democrats revert to some nasty name calling in a New York House race that could potentially pit Republican Lee Zeldin against six-term Democratic congressman Tim Bishop. The Democratic Congressional Committee posted this comment on its website about Zeldin. Get this. By the way, did I mention he served in Iraq? “Lee Zeldin is either woefully uninformed, willfully ignorant, or a coward. Zeldin feigns ignorance on every important issue and refuses to take a stand against his party’s reckless budget,” meaning Paul Ryan’s budget. And the insults don't end there. They also posted this picture showing Zeldin as the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz. So what kind of shameless stunt is this? Guess who’s here? Lee Zeldin, Army veteran, New York State senator He's here to weigh in to tell us to respond. Your reaction to being called a coward?
LEE ZELDIN: Well, you have some liberal Democrat hack who is hiding behind his Twitter account, stuffs his face with cheese doodles, sending out press releases on DCCC letterhead, shameful attacks. And the fact is Nancy Pelosi, Steve Israel, Tim Bishop, they've never served a day, and I think when I was sitting at the door on that Blackhawk and the drill master hits the back of your head, and you do what's so unnatural, jumping out with your parachute, here you are, fast forward to today and you have these Democratic hacks out of Washington who want to change the subject and fling insults, saying that I'm a coward. It just doesn't fit.
KILMEADE: Your reaction is to – you put some pictures of yourself actually serving. Do they even understand that that's your background? I mean, they did something very similar to Congressman Cotton down south, too.
ZELDIN: Yeah. I think that they realize that our strongest suit is our character, our integrity, our honor, our personal courage. So they want to attack it because they're so desperate to hold on to power. Their prestige, their perks, they don't want to lose it. They'll do anything to hold a congressional seat. So they'll try to tear down someone who -- for me I spent half my life serving in the military. I love it. I'm proud of it. I don't want to be called a coward.
KILMEADE: Right, and you put yourself through law school by joining the ROTC. You went to Albany, you go to Albany Law. You were a JAG officer, but you were also going out on missions because you were in this thing for the last 13 years called war.
ZELDIN: Right, so I was with the A second airborne division. I still serve as a major in the Army Reserves, 2006. Deployed to Iraq, I was based in Tikrit with the 82nd airborne division, with an infantry battalion. I was proud to serve with my heroes, people to your left and right who are willing to lay down everything in protection of our Constitution, our freedoms and our liberties. Honored to serve, and I certainly don't want to be mischaracterized of who I am and what I'm about.
KILMEADE: And Tim Bishop's area, which he’s held for six terms now, so he's had that, it's pretty much Suffolk County on Long Island, and it includes the Hamptons, a lot of prestigious places. But your main theme is, hey, if you're a family of four and you're making about $80,000, you are not making it in this area.
ZELDIN: Oh, it’s – between the taxes, the property taxes, the income taxes, the energy costs, the health care costs, it all adds up. It's very difficult to get by. And for all the issues that are facing us as a community and a nation, we need courage of people in office who are willing to put forth plans to, say, balance our nation's budget. So the Democrats, they refuse to put out a plan. Instead they just want to campaign against –
KILMEADE: Paul Ryan’s plan.
ZELDIN: – they want to campaign against it and they want to scare seniors. They want to throw low-income Americans on the street. It's scary what they're saying.
KILMEADE: And real quick, do you back Paul Ryan's plan?
ZELDIN: I think that it's important that we put ourselves on the path towards fiscal responsibility. I think that there is good things and things that can be improved in it. And I look forward to being part of that discussion with him next year to have hopefully a stronger plan to move forward.
KILMEADE: Lee, thanks for your service. I mean, it's too bad the debate can't just be about issues and they got to get into character. But it actually is one of your strong suits. So bring it on I guess could be the message. Thanks so much, Lee.