Update Jan. 10: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, apologized Friday for comments he made Wednesday to Fox News.
Collins issued a statement about the comments Friday morning.
“Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week. The comment I made on Wednesday evening was in response to a question about the War Powers Resolution being introduced in the House and House Democrats’ attempt to limit the president’s authority,” Collins posted on social media. “As someone who served in Iraq in 2008, I witnessed firsthand the brutal death of countless soldiers who were torn to shreds by this vicious terrorist. Soleimani was nothing less than an evil mastermind who viciously killed and wounded thousands of Americans. These images will live with me for the rest of my life, but that does not excuse my response on Wednesday evening. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and with my fellow citizens to keep all Americans safe.”
Previous story: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, again has the attention of America following comments he made in an interview with Fox News’ Lou Dobbs.
In the conversation, which aired Jan. 8 for about seven minutes, Collins said Democrats are “in love with terrorists” and mourn the recent death of an Iranian general more than fallen U.S. military members.
Numerous reports and opinions about his comments have since been published by national and other media outlets. Collins was in the spotlight last month as well during impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee, where he serves as ranking member.
On Wednesday, Dobbs and Collins were discussing tensions with Iran and legislation proposed by Democrats that would require President Donald Trump to receive congressional approval before taking further military action against Iran.
“Nancy Pelosi does it again and her Democrats fall right in line. One, they are in love with terrorists — we see that,” Collins said. “They mourn [Qassem] Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani. That's a problem.”
Collins said in a statement Thursday that he has seen the effects of Soleimani’s attacks on U.S. service members. Collins is a U.S. Air Force Reserve chaplain who was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and 2009.
“While serving a combat tour in Iraq in 2008, I witnessed firsthand the brutal death of countless soldiers who were torn to shreds by this vicious terrorist. Soleimani was nothing less than an evil mastermind who viciously killed and wounded thousands of Americans, and he should have been taken out a long time ago,” Collins said. “When Democrats fail to call him what he is — a cold-blooded terrorist — it cheapens the death of the soldiers I served alongside and the countless innocent lives Soleimani stole.”
In a social media post on Jan. 8, Collins addressed those who had criticized the strike on Soleimani.
“What would you say to the Gold Star families who have lost loved ones because of Soleimani's attacks?” he said. “What would you say to the veterans at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center) who lost limbs because of the IEDs he provided?”
The comments made on Fox News received criticism from Indivisible Lumpkin, a Dahlonega-based group that according to its website has members who “share progressive values and are united in opposition to the Trump agenda.”
“Doug Collins’s statements are the pinnacle of partisanship, exploiting a convenient news cycle for craven fear mongering,” the group said in a statement. “He accuses us and all progressive voices of being ‘in love with terrorists’ because he in his twisted and fear-darkened worldview cannot conceive of any reason for patriotic, everyday Americans to oppose pointless and unprovoked war.”
The chairman of the Hall County Democratic Party said Trump is moving the country toward “another senseless war.”
“Collins’ statement is untrue, appalling, and irresponsible. Ask [Osama bin Laden] for his opinion. Republicans’ inane policies and false war pretenses motivate these terrorists,” Kim Copeland said in an email.
Soleimani, 62, was an Iranian general who was killed by a U.S. airstrike on Jan. 3. Iran struck back at the United States early Jan. 8, firing a series of ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing American troops, according to The Associated Press.