In Dispute With White House, Kyl Claims His Comments Were Taken ‘Out of Context’

By MichaelJames

Jun 25, 2010 7:31pm

In an interview with National Review Online's Robert Costa published today, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., claimed there was something of a misunderstanding afoot in the dispute between he and the White House over a conversation he and President Obama had about immigration.
 
As you may recall, four days ago we wrote that on June 18, Kyl, the Senate Republican whip, told a North Tempe Tea Party town hall that in an Oval Office conversation between he and the president about securing the U.S.-Mexico border, "here's what the president said: 'The problem is,' he said, 'if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’ In other words, they’re holding it hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’”
 
The White House Monday rejected Kyl's account.
 
“The president didn’t say that and Sen. Kyl knows it," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. "There are more resources dedicated toward border security today than ever before, but, as the president has made clear, truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.”
 
Kyl told NRO today that his comments at the Tea Party were “taken a bit out of context" — because when he said “they” in the sentence, "they're holding it hostage," he meant liberals, “the president’s base” and not members of the Obama administration.
 
“I did not try to start a fight. This meeting happened a month ago and we were talking in the context of his political problems. He was talking about how they think that if we secure the border, you guys [Republicans] won’t have the incentive to work on comprehensive immigration reform.”
 
Last week, Kyl spokesman Ryan Patmintra said the senator stood by his account and tonight, asked for a comment about Kyl's claim that he had been misunderstood, Patmintra called the story a "poor attempt by the DNC to muddy the waters," though I hadn't heard from the DNC on the matter or mentioned them at all.
 
Patmintra said the NRO post "doesn't change the fact that Sen. Kyl and president were the only two people in the meeting, not the DNC or a White House spokesperson. Sen. Kyl stands fully behind his remarks."
 
- Jake Tapper

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