Rep. Cindy Axne told reporters Monday that her comments were “completely misconstrued" in an episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight.
In a segment of the show last week, host Tucker Carlson criticized a recording of Axne speaking at a Zoom event. In the clip Carlson aired, Axne spoke about “anti-vaxxer crazies" responding to mask mandates at schools before speaking briefly about “the Christian Right."
“It's painful to watch because they've weaponized religion," Axne said in the clip. “They've weaponized politics."
After playing the video, Carlson asserted that Axne hates the people she's speaking about.
“It's hard to remember those are actually human beings she's talking about — some of the weakest human beings in our country," he said. “But she would never know they're real people because she clearly loathes them. She hates them."
National and state Republicans released critical statements of Axne following the Carlson segment. Iowa GOP spokesperson Kollin Crompton said her comments were “a slap in the face to every person of faith in Iowa." Axne's Republican opponent Nicole Hasso called her “a rabid Christianophobe."
At a Monday event in Norwalk, Axne told reporters that the clip was “taken out of context and completely misconstrued" before speaking broadly on the intersection of politics and religion.
“I'm frustrated by folks around this country who use religion as a way to deny science and put our communities at risk," Axne said. “Because I grew up as a Catholic saying that you support people in your community, you serve others, and you put others above yourself."
Axne said that religion should stay separate from politics, citing the founding fathers and a recent speech where Pope Francis said that Christians should not use the cross as a political symbol. She criticized Carlson for trying to create a false narrative with the clip.
“I'm not sure when we're going to get past having the public understand that what they see on Fox television is being misinterpreted," she said.
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