When asked for further comment, Rehberg's congressional spokesman Jed Link pointed to various uses of metaphorical language in politics, and said that the criticism was an attempt to distract voters from the Democrats' policies.
"No one thinks Senator Tester is actually preparing to go to war despite his frequent references to building a war chest. Nor did anyone feel threatened when Time suggested Republicans were an 'endangered species' on a 2009 cover," said Link. "This hand-wringing is nothing but an attempt to distract Montanans from the substance of the speech and the fact that Washington Democrats have been wrong on just about every issue they've tackled including some of the judges they've sent to the federal bench."
Link also pointed us to the full text of Rehberg's speech. Here is the key quote from Rehberg, in its larger context:
My job as your Congressman is to defend the states' rights principle in Washington. That means focusing on the core responsibilities of the federal government; that means getting Washington off the backs of our people - as well as legislators like you in state capitals across America. And that means ending federal management of the gray wolf population here in Montana.
Unfortunately, the only thing growing faster than the gray wolf population is the number of obstructionist environmental groups and their lawyers. Environmental obstructionists found a federal judge in Missoula that was willing to ignore the scientific evidence as well as the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers here in Montana. And he ruled last August that the grey wolf had to remain on the Endangered Species List.
When I first heard his decision, like many of you I wanted to take action immediately. I asked: how can we put some of these judicial activists on the Endangered Species List? I am still working on that! But in the meantime, I have introduced legislation that would permanently end federal jurisdiction over the gray wolf population - and return responsibility to the wildlife managers here in Montana.
(Original story via The Hill.)
This post has been edited, to add the video clip.