A day after he unwittingly appeared on the premiere episode of a Showtime political satire and seemed to endorse the idea of arming school children as young as 4, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said he rejects that proposal and accused the show’s creators of unfairly editing the video.
“At no time did I endorse training toddlers in handling guns. Nor was the idea even presented to me directly,” said Rohrabacher R-Costa Mesa. “If it had been, I would have rejected it. In school shootings, the standard response is ‘Run, hide, fight,’ in that order. My response was perfectly consistent with that.
“This was fraud…,” he added. “And its intention was to deceive the American people for political purposes.”
Rohrabacher’s office later said the congressman supports voluntary self-defense and firearm training for American high school students, with strictly limited access to on-campus guns.
Rohrabacher said he didn’t have direct contact with the comedian host of “Who Is America,” Sacha Baron Cohen, or the show’s producers.
In the satire’s final segment, which first aired Sunday evening, Cohen, disguised as an Israeli gun-rights activist, appears to convince several current and former GOP congressmen, as well as gun lobbyists, to support the “Kinder Guardian” program to protect schools from attack by arming and training young students to use handguns, assault rifles, and explosives.
While some politicians appearing in the video expressed clear support for Cohen’s fake program (and a gun-rights activist even promoted kid-friendly firearms that look like stuffed animals), Rohrabacher was shown saying only “having many young people trained and understand how to defend themselves in their school, might actually make us safer here.”
On Monday, Rohrabacher said that unlike other congressmen in the video, the “Kinder Guardian” program had never been presented to him. Instead, he said his video appearance was one he submitted “earlier this year for a bogus Israeli television company supposedly celebrating the country’s 70th anniversary,” in which he spoke “broadly of making sure young people could get training in self defense.”
Cohen’s segment was an obvious riff on President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers with guns to protect students, something Trump and others in the GOP have suggested in the wake of several 2018 school shootings. Rohrabacher has not commented publicly on that proposal.
Rohrabacher, a 30-year incumbent who represents coastal cities from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach, is running a contested re-election bid in a district that national Democrats have targeted to flip in their effort to retake the House of Representatives.
On Sunday night, after the TV show aired, Rohrabacher’s Democratic challenger, Laguna Beach businessman Harley Rouda, criticized the congressman on Twitter over the television appearance, saying Rohrabacher was gullible, weak and committed to “the NRA over our nation’s safety.” Rouda has campaigned on banning assault rifles and bump stocks and implementing universal background checks on gun purchases.
His willingness to promote a non-existent “children’s gun program” proves his commitment to the NRA over our Nation’s safety.
His gullibility, lack of due diligence, and weakness is exactly why Vladimir Putin adopted him decades ago.@DanaRohrabacher #FireDana #DebateMeDana https://t.co/STGvGZoP7T
— Harley Rouda (@HarleyRouda) July 15, 2018
An Orange County Democratic group announced Monday that it will hold a rally in Huntington Beach on Tuesday to protest Rohrabacher’s TV statements and his support from the gun industry.
Rohrabacher has accepted $7,700 in campaign money from gun-rights groups over the past two election cycles, an amount that lands him near the median of GOP members of Congress, according to Open Secrets. In all, he received more than $39,000 from pro-gun groups since 1990, according to the website.
Rohrabacher has in recent months been criticized for making inflammatory public statements. In May, the National Association of Realtors withdrew its support from Rohrabacher after he said that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their property to gay and lesbian people. In April, Rohrabacher was chided after he speculated incorrectly and without evidence on national news that the person who perpetrated a shooting at YouTube headquarters could be an illegal immigrant.
Cohen is best known for wearing disguises and going undercover as his characters Ali G, Borat and Bruno to interview unsuspecting subjects.
Source: OC Register