Crenshaw apologizes to colleagues offended by 'terrorists' jab during speaker battle

"I don't want them to think I actually believe they're terrorists."

Dan Crenshaw speaks to media.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw speaks to media on Capitol Hill on the opening day of the 118th Congress. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, on Sunday said he was sorry if any of his House colleagues were offended by his heated rhetoric during the protracted speakership conflict over the past week.

"To the extent that I have colleagues that were offended by it, I sincerely apologize to them. I don't want them to think I actually believe they're terrorists. It's clearly a turn of phrase that you use when it is an intransigent negotiation," Crenshaw said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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Crenshaw, an outspoken supporter of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, had a number of fiery criticisms of the far-right GOP holdouts who forced significant concessions from the Republican leader by refusing to back him in vote after embarrassing vote. McCarthy eventually flipped enough votes to secure the speakership in the early hours of Saturday morning.

At various points in the weeklong series of votes, Crenshaw called these holdouts "enemies," suggested they were narcissists, and compared their negotiating style to terrorists. “We cannot let the terrorists win,” he said.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted Crenshaw for the comments, which he called "the snarling face of the donor class" of the Republican Party.

Crenshaw fired back on Twitter. "Unclutch your pearls," he wrote. "Grow thicker skin."

Richard Hudson pulls Mike Rogers back as they talk with Matt Gaetz.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., left, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The back-and-forth was only a small part of the GOP maelstrom over the past week. On the House floor, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., had to be physically restrained when confronting Rep. Matt Gaetz, a leader of McCarthy's hard-right opposition group.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said Sunday on CNN that the raw emotions helped open up the negotiations.

"A little temporary conflict is necessary in this town in order to stop this town from rolling over the American people," said Roy, one of the GOP holdouts who repeatedly voted against McCarthy before supporting him. "Some of the tensions you saw on display, when we saw some of the interactions there between Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz ... we need a little of that."

"Sometimes democracy's messy," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on Fox News, "but I would argue that's exactly how the founders intended it."

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But that conflict may be an omen of battles to come as a divided Congress navigates high-stakes negotiations over the debt limit, spending bills and more. And it's likely more bridges will need to be mended on the Republican side, as McCarthy's emboldened right flank wields new influence.

"Things get heated. And things get said," Crenshaw said Sunday on CNN of his "terrorist" insult. "Obviously, to the people who took offense by that, it's pretty obvious that it's meant as a turn of phrase. It's in the context of intransigent negotiations."

He added: "Look, I've got pretty thick skin. I get called awful, vile things [by] the very same wing that I'm fighting, that I was fighting at that moment, so I was kind of taken aback by the sensitivity of it."