A Republican congressman from Colorado was not trying to undermine President Barack Obama's military actions in the Middle East by urging generals who disagreed with the president to resign "in a blaze of glory," a spokesman said Monday.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn made the remarks last week in response to a question at a small gathering in Colorado Springs. One man urged Lamborn to support generals given "the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House" — a comparison of the president to the Islamic group that briefly ran Egypt until this year's coup.
"A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, 'Hey, if you disagree with the policy the White House has given you, let's have a resignation,'" Lamborn said. "You know, let's have a public resignation, and state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory."
The remarks, made as the military stepped up its campaign against the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, drew quick condemnation from Democrats and others when a recording circulated late last week.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, the Democrat challenging Lamborn in November, said it was "inappropriate for Rep. Lamborn to politicize the military for his own gain."
Fellow Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who like Lamborn sits on the House Armed Services committee that oversees the Pentagon, tweeted Sunday night that "as a Marine combat veteran, I know to keep my politics off the battlefield."
Jarred Rego, a spokesman for Lamborn's re-election campaign, said Monday that the remarks had been misinterpreted. He said the congressman was referencing prior occasions, such as the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" policy or budget cuts, "where generals and admirals approached members of Congress and expressed serious disagreement."
Rego said there have been no such recent discussions and that Lamborn supports Obama's campaign against Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.