Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican, confessed Monday that he was the erstwhile mystery man who shouted "baby killer" on the House floor as Rep. Bart Stupak, a fellow abortion opponent, defended the health-care reform bill. Neugebauer says he wasn't referring to Stupak — who voted for the legislation despite the protests of pro-life groups — but to the bill itself. Here's what you need to know about Randy Neugebauer:
Is Neugebauer known as a rabble-rouser?
Not at all. By reputation, Rep. Neugebauer of Lubbock, Texas, is a quiet and polite guy. Before entering politics, he was a banker. His friends in Congress say his outburst in the tense final moments of the health-care showdown was out of character. "He's a gentleman," said Lubbock County GOP chairman Chris Winn, "and his words should not be taken as hateful or cruel."
Is he a leading pro-life voice in Congress?
No, although the 60-year-old married father of two has deeply held anti-abortion views. Before Sunday's health reform vote, not many people had heard of Randy Neugebauer. He has made few waves since he was first elected in a 2003 special election. Now in his third full term, he has been most conspicuous to date as the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee's livestock, dairy and poultry subcommittee.
Will his constituents be upset over his outburst?
Neugebauer comes from "a fiercely red district" in the Texas panhandle, says Daniel Stone in Newsweek, and he has always run as a Christian conservative. So while not everyone in Neugebauer's district is likely to endorse heckling, "Neugebauer probably won’t be punished for the remark by his constituents." Many "probably agree with his angry sentiment."
So is his seat safe in November?
Probably so. Neugebauer was re-elected in 2008 by a 3 to 1 margin and ran unopposed in this year's Republican primary. His Democratic opponent this fall — first-time candidate Andy Wilson — has raised less than $7,000, about 1 percent of Neugebauer's campaign war chest.
Does Neugebauer regret making such a spectacle?
Yes and no. He says he's deeply sorry that his actions were "mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself." He also apologized for his lack of decorum. But he said he was only representing the views of his constituents by expressing outrage over what he still views as "a baby-killing bill."
What got him so mad?
Stupak and six other anti-abortion opponents switched gears and voted for the bill after President Obama pledged to issue an executive order prohibiting the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions under the legislation. The deal gave Democrats the last "yes" votes they needed, but Republicans don't believe Obama can or will keep his promise.
Was Neugebauer's "baby killer" outburst unique?
Hardly. It conjured up memories of Rep. Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted "You lie!" in September as President Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress about illegal immigrants and health care. Wilson was admonished by the House, but several colleagues defended him. Wilson's outburst also made him something of a hero to oppoents of reform, bringing in more than $2 million in campaign contributions.