Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, apologized on Friday for calling Obamacare supporters the “stupidest, dumbass” people that he’s ever seen.
“Yesterday, I made a poorly worded joke about Obamacare supporters — a joke that was not reflective of my actual feelings towards my friends on the other side,” the 83-year-old lawmaker said in a prepared statement.
“Throughout my term of service, I have always recognized the importance of civility, particularly in engaging with those of different political perspectives. While I occasionally slip up, I believe that my legislative record reflects my commitment to bipartisanship and civility much more than my flippant, off-the-cuff comment.”
Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, made the comment while speaking about the GOP tax overhaul at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday.
“We also finally did away with the individual mandate, a tax that was established under that wonderful bill called ‘Obamacare,'” Hatch said. “That (Obamacare) was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen. Now, some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met, and there are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday the comment was uncharacteristic of Hatch.
“Orrin Hatch, I think, is frustrated. He’s usually a very polite man, you know, but I guess he sort of lost it,” Schumer said on CNN, adding, “Obamacare is not perfect, but the overwhelming majority of Americans say don’t repeal it, make it better.”
Hatch announced in January that he will retire at the end of his term this year, ending months of speculation about his political future. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 and a former governor of Massachusetts, announced in February that he was running for Hatch’s seat.