Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) acknowledged on Sunday that the claims he made two weeks ago -- that Democratic health care legislation would allow the government to "pull the plug on grandma" -- did not reflect the language of the bills.
In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," the Iowa Republican admitted that the current legislation being considered by Congress didn't include the infamous death panel provision that would allow the government to determine who should live or die.
"I know the Pelosi bill doesn't intend to do that," said Grassley. "It won't do that," he added later.
Grassley's admission concludes several weeks of speculation as to why the senator, one of three key Republicans negotiating a bipartisan health care bill, would latch on to the infamous myth. The White House insisted that it still wanted to work with Grassley even after he made his remarks. But on Capitol Hill and outside of government, Democrats were furious that the key GOP point person for a bipartisan bill was deploying such toxic rhetoric.
But if Grassley's initial statement seemed bizarre, his explanation for making the remark was equally curious. The Iowa Republican said he was merely trying to quell concerns of constituents who had read about death panels on the internet and grew scared when they heard talk of increased government involvement in the health care system.
"I was responding to a question at my town hall meetings," he told host Bob Schieffer. "I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the internet. It scared my constituents. And the specific language I used was language that the president had used at Portsmouth. And I thought that if he used the language, then if I responded exactly the same way, that I had an opposite concern about not using end-of-life counseling for saving money, then I was answering and relieving the fears that my constituents had."
"And from that standpoint, remember, you're talking about this issue being connected with a government-run program which a public option would take you with, you would get into the issue of saving money, and put these three things together and you are scaring a lot of people," he added. "I know the Pelosi bill doesn't intend to do that. But that's where it leads people to."
Touching of the bizarreness of the whole segment, earlier in the program it was Grassley who was accusing the White House of damaging health care negotiations by sending mixed messages on its beliefs and preferences.
"It would help if we did not get conflicting views from the White House," he said.