San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is making political headlines in Washington, D.C., for his critical comments about President Obama and his former Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill. NBC 7's political reporter Gene Cubbison takes a look at the radio interview that threw Filner into the national spotlight.
San Diego's mayor is now back in the news in Washington, D.C. -- making headlines for critical comments about President Obama and his former Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.
The fun started with a phone interview that former Congressman Bob Filner gave KPCC-FM, a public radio station in Los Angeles, and wound up in Politico, a leading national news outlet for political junkies.
The focus of the radio interview?
Why Filner left Washington to run for mayor.
"The (Congressional Democrats’) leadership does to the Democrats what Republicans do to us in elections -- divide and conquer," Filner said at one point. "They keep their control by intimidation. If you don’t go along with the votes, with what they want, you’ll lose your committee assignments, your seniority … your ability to get floor time to talk, your ability to get bills passed.”
Filner’s further remarks indicate that ten terms in Congress didn't sell him on the institution or its 'ways and means'.
Not only did he have caustic words for House Republicans – “They had no respect, as it were, for government per se” -- but his own party bosses on The Hill as well.
Will that come to haunt him here as mayor?
Not in the estimation of Voice of San Diego columnist and CEO Scott Lewis.
"You criticize Congress right now, it's a pretty winning proposition," Lewis said in an interview Thursday. "(Filner is) used to being able to spout off, and I think that people are now listening more because he's mayor of a large city."
And, one who's brash enough to characterize the President – according KPCC -- as “giving away the store before sitting down to negotiate”.
Filner campaigned for mayor saying that if elected, he and his constituents would have “a friend in the White House”.
Is that now in question?
“I don’t see that (White House officials) have long memories for this sort of thing,” says Lewis. "This is what he's built his life around, is this non-violent but very aggressive conflict-type productivity."
City Club of San Diego President George Mitrovich, a former press aide to three senators who’s spent time on Capitol Hill over six decades, agrees.
"It is how (Filner) rolls,” says Mitrovich. And that's fine. I mean, that's fine … if you remember what the great (former House Speaker) Sam Rayburn said – “to get along, you go along” – I think Mr. Filner missed that memo.”
However, Mitrovich doesn’t believe that Filner has said the unpardonable, and dismisses the long-term import of a media flareup early in his mayoral tenure.
"Mr. Cubbison,” Mitrovich said, addressing his interviewer with laughter on Thursday, “ if I'm doing what you're doing, I would be ecstatic that Bob Filner is mayor of this city -- it's going to make your job so much more interesting."
Filner’s press secretary said the mayor was “unavailable” for an interview Thursday, but might have time next week.
In response to a request for comment, local Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric emailed a statement saying it’s "laughable" that Filner is "trying to re-cast himself as some middle-of-the-road pragmatist … the worst of Congress is right now in our own back yard".