Capuano apologizes for ‘bloody’ comment

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By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / February 24, 2011

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US Representative Michael E. Capuano, who decried violent political rhetoric after last month’s fatal shooting rampage in Tucson, said yesterday that he regrets urging union workers at a rally in Boston on Tuesday to “get a little bloody.’’

“I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights, and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech,’’ the Somerville Democrat said in a statement. “I wish I had used different language to express my passion, and I regret my choice of words.’’

Capuano was referring to remarks he made Tuesday at a raucous rally of about 1,000 union workers who were outside the State House, protesting Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his plan to limit public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

“I’m proud to be with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an e-mail that gets you going,’’ Capuano had declared. “Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.’’

The union crowd greeted Capuano’s exhortation with cheers, whistles, and applause.

But his remark raised eyebrows elsewhere because Capuano was among the lawmakers who were calling for cooler political rhetoric after Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the Tucson rampage.

At the time, Capuano had said the shooting was probably inevitable because of the nation’s heated political rhetoric.

“Many of us were afraid for a long time that something like this would happen, with the level or the tone of the discourse over the last several years,’’ Capuano told WGBH on Jan. 22. “It’s gotten violent and personal.’’

Capuano echoed that sentiment in a Jan. 9 interview with the Globe.

“Everybody knows the last couple of years there’s been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse,’’ he said. “If nothing else good comes out of this, I’m hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things.’’

Capuano ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2009 and is considering a run against Republican Scott Brown in 2012.

Michael Levenson can be reached at