In November, members of the House were debating a resolution about withdrawing American troops from Iraq. Schmidt, R-Loveland, said she had received a phone call from Ohio Rep. Danny Bubp telling her to send U.S. Rep. John Murtha a message that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”
House Democrats booed in protest at the suggestion that Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran and the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, was a coward.
After order was restored, Schmidt said that her remarks were not directed at any member of the House and asked for her words to be stricken from the record.
Schmidt Chief of Staff Barry Bennett said that neither Schmidt or Bubp knew at the time that Murtha was a Marine.
Schmidt said in a statement that she never intended to attack Murtha personally and sent him a note of apology moments after her speech.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bubp denied discussing Murtha with Schmidt.
“Our conversation was based strictly on the proposal to immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq and the consequences of such a proposal,” he said in a statement. “We never discussed anyone by name and there was no intent to ever disparage the congressman or his distinguished record of service for our nation.”
A key Democrat on military issues with close ties to the Pentagon, Murtha set off a fire storm when he proposed all of the some 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq be pulled out over the next six months.
Bennett said Schmidt was not backing away from her message that Murtha's policies on the Iraq war was seriously wrong.
“She believes our troops were sent there for a mission and we need to give them enough time to complete that mission,” he said.
Soon after Schmidt made her remarks, the incident was spoofed on “Saturday Night Live.”
Schmidt is filling the unexpired term of Rob Portman and won a special election in August. Portman vacated his seat to become U.S. Trade Representative.