Collins Excuses Himself From Caucus ... With Democrats

6:05 PM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC - The nation's capitol can be a daunting and confusing place for anyone, even incoming members of Congress.

An article in Roll Call titled, "Dude, Where's My Caucus" reports the following regarding Western New York Congressman-elect Chris Collins:

"Day Two of of the lame-duck and the freshman gaffes keep coming.

"A Democratic staffer camped out at this morning's caucus meeting for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's big reveal witnessed a panicky exit by a perplexed newcomer.

"When they welcomed Leader Pelosi and everyone stood up to applaud, a frantic new member got up - breakfast plate in hand - rushed over to me and asked, 'Wait ... what meeting is this?!' I said, 'This is the Democratic Caucus.' He said, 'I'm in the wrong meeting. Where are the Republicans meeting?' the anonymous tipster said of the mini-drama.

"The confused caucuser? Rep.-elect Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

"A Collins aide suggested it was all part of the boss's master plan.

" 'Congressman-elect Collins believes very strongly in reaching bipartisan solutions to fix this country's problems. What better way to accomplish that than introducing himself to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle,' the budding spinmeister assured HOH."

Collins' Chief of Staff Chris Grant told WGRZ-TV that Collins confirmed to him that the incident occurred pretty much as reported, and that Collins was in good humor about it. 

WEB EXTRA: Collins spoke with Gannett Reporter Brian Tumulty on Thursday. Video is attached to this story but the two did not discuss Collins walking into the wrong caucus.

However, Collins later told Gannett: "When I saw Nancy Pelosi come in and get her standing ovation, it was apparent I was in the wrong room.'I just excused myself and found my way to the right meeting. They seemed to want to make a big deal of it. As my chief of staff said, we are going to work in a bipartisan way. It was a good opportunity for me to introduce myself to all the Democrats.''

Just before that, Collins had attended a meeting for newly elected House members of both parties. He left that session talking to a "very friendly'' new lawmaker from California who turned out to be a Democrat, Collins said.

"I just walked out of the meeting with him down the hall and followed him into the Democrats' caucus,'' Collin said. "Actually, I had breakfast with him.''


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