Thursday, July 20, 2006
Rep. McHenry skewers Helen Thomas
From The Morning Grind

Don't expect Rep. Patrick McHenry to put "Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public" on his summer reading list. The North Carolina Republican sharply criticized the book's author, longtime White House reporter/columnist Helen Thomas, Wednesday during an intern seminar sponsored by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia).

When asked about Thomas' assertion that the media had taken it easy on White House, the 30-year-old McHenry, who is only 10 years older than most of those in attendance, teed off, CNN Political Unit interns Megan Cummings and Josh Lipsky report.

"She is off her rocker," McHenry said. "She's lost it. She's a left-wing, socialist, wacko, communist."

McHenry went on to describe Thomas as "nuts" and from "outer-space" and his rant against Thomas drew an enthusiastic applause and cheers from the predominately-Republican intern crowd. The Grind could not reach Thomas for comment.

McHenry was one of a handful of House Republicans including Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Missouri), GOP Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (Ohio), Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (Virginia) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida) who spoke to the intern-only crowd on subjects ranging from how they first got started in politics to what is going to happen in the midterms.

Blunt told the group his calling to public service came at the age of 23. For Boehner, it was a "challenge" to take his mind off the money he was making running a small plastics business. And for Ros-Lehtinen, she was inspired by the impassioned discussions at the dinner table about her Cuban family's struggle for freedom.

As for a prediction for the midterms, Blunt scoffed at the possibility of a Democratic takeover.

"They have no agenda," he said. "There is no overriding ideology.

"They have nothing in common except that they're not us," he later added.

And Ros-Lehtinen encouraged the young GOPers not to be complacent in helping to grow the party. Right now, she said, "Cubans are the only minority that Republicans consistently have."

Kingston has a blog posting on the event. Check out Rep. Adam Putnam's (R-Florida) remarks about the Senate.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 7/20/2006 10:46:00 AM ET | Permalink
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