Updated:WASHINGTON - Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a three-term Republican from Coweta County, is facing criticism for a controversial speech in Washington, D.C. Channel 2 cameras captured the exchange.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland Suggests Government Shutdown
Westmoreland, speaking Friday to a group of conservative leaders at the Faith & Freedom Conference gathering, elicited applause and cheers while talking about a possible shutdown of the government, if Republicans win control of Congress. Westmoreland said, "We're in partnership with the American people. We're listening to the American people. This is what we're going to do. The government shuts down. We want you with us. We gotta have you. We gotta have you."
According to Politico newspaper in Washington, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who helped force a government shut down in 1995, said, "Look, I don't think those were the wisest words that you could use, but the point he was making... is valid."
After contacting Westmoreland's office for further comment, the Congressman's chief of staff passed along a clarifying statement about the speech. It reads, as follows:
"Our country is on the road to a fiscal disaster of historic proportions. It is incumbent on Republicans in Congress to put us back on the path of fiscal responsibility. In making that point during a speech last week, I reminded those in the audience that we will face tough decisions on cutting the size of government. I did not call for nor am I advocating shutting down the federal government. We have commitments to veterans and seniors that we must keep and we do that by setting priorities and de-funding expensive new entitlement programs like Obamacare."