(CNN) – Rep. Steve Cohen, the Tennessee Democrat who compared Republican efforts to criticize health care to the works of a famous Nazi propagandist, is standing by his heated rhetoric on the House Floor Tuesday night.
But in an interview with CNN’s John King, Cohen said he was not directly comparing Republicans to Nazis, but rather merely suggesting they are employing the same techniques of that of infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
“I didn’t compare the Republicans to Nazis,” Cohen told CNN Wednesday. “Goebbels was the master of political propaganda. He said repeat it. Make it short. Make it simple and repeat it over and over. And that’s what they’ve done. It’s not a - you just heard [Minnesota Republican Rep.] Michele Bachmann call it socialistic. That’s just - they’re lies.”
The original comments came Tuesday night when Cohen, speaking to a virtually empty House Floor, said, “They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie, just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually people believe it.”
In his interview with CNN, Cohen insists the press has blown his comments out of proportion.
“Some have in the press…seem to want to jump on anything,” he said, adding later, “I think that people are looking for something. I think the press was hypersensitive. Certainly I didn’t intend to do that, but the way they lied has been the same way that the master political propagandist of all time Goebbels said to lie.”
Also speaking on Anderson Copper 360 Wednesday, Cohen said he wouldn’t make the comparison again but declared, “I was right.”
Earlier Wednesday, Cohen told CNN that he has not heard from his party leadership about his remarks and no Democratic leaders have publicly condemned them despite President Obama’s call for civility in the wake of the Arizona shootings.
Few Republicans have weighed in either, though the Republican Jewish Coalition called the comments “a very disturbing development.”
“After leaders of both parties called upon their rank-and-file members to choose their words with more prudence and sensitivity in the aftermath of the horrible events in Tucson, Congressman Cohen’s outrageous use of Holocaust rhetoric should offend us all,” said Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks.
The Tennessee GOP has also demanded Cohen apologize for the remarks.