May 08--A Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives says he misspoke when he used a poor choice of words to describe his feelings about certain agencies of the federal government.
During a public forum in Waycross, Bob Johnson, a Savannah surgeon, said he would rather chance more terrorist attacks than have more Americans screened by security at airports. His comments were in response to a question about the Transportation Security Administration, the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden, the man accused of releasing information on NSA's eavesdropping activities. TSA is the agency that provides security at airports.
"The TSA is doing something really profound,' Johnson said in the video. "They're indoctrinating generations of Americans to walk through a line and be prodded and probed by uniformed personnel, agents of the government, like sheep.
"Now this is going to sound outrageous," he continued. "I'd rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen."
In an official statement to The News Wednesday, Johnson, who's seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives District 1 seat now held by Jack Kingston, says he suffered from a rare attack of foot-in-mouth disease when trying to explain how the TSA, NSA and the federal government in general have degraded the constitutional rights of American citizens.
"Unfortunately, I made a real blunder in my comments, stating that I would rather suffer another (terrorist) attack than subject all Americans to the heavy-handed intrusions of both TSA screening and NSA spying," he said. "This was poorly worded and I apologize."
His lack of political experience may be responsible for the political gaffe, he says.
"I spoke passionately about the constitutionally conservative ideals I value so strongly," said Johnson. "... And in the heat of the moment, while making the point that I would much rather fight the enemy than our federal government, I said something stupid."
A video of Johnson making the comments at a forum two months ago was posted on the Internet Tuesday.
Johnson said he's not sure who provided the video since the forum was in February.
Johnson's opponents in the race for the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary are Jeff Chapman, Darwin Carter, Earl Martin, John A. McCallum and Buddy Carter. The winner will face a Democrat in the November general election
-- Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at email@example.com, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.
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