The S.C. Democratic Party criticized U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan Thursday for comments he made about a Muslim student and the man accused of setting off an explosive in New York City that injured 31 people last week.
Duncan spoke for several minutes Wednesday during a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing.
"We cannot rely on the federal government and its big bureaucracy to continue to keep us safe," Duncan said. "We'll continue to allow terrorists to come in here. We'll continue to attack the constitutional rights of Americans."
Duncan added, "We'll continue to invite somebody who made something look like a bomb, brought it to school but now it’s a ‘clock’ and we invite him into the White House. It is a good thing that the guy in New Jersey didn’t say ‘Oh, this is just a clock.’"
The 3rd District Republican from Laurens apparently was referring to student Ahmed Mohamed and accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami.
Mohamed was 14 years old when he was taken into custody at a high school in Irving, Texas, last September after a teacher thought that a clock that he had made resembled a bomb. After being cleared of any wrongdoing, Mohamed met President Obama during a science event at the White House.
Rahami, 28, was apprehended Monday after a police shootout in New Jersey. He is accused of detonating a pressure cooker in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood last Saturday, as well as other crimes.
A tweet posted Thursday by the S.C. Democratic Party said Duncan's comments marked a "new low."
David Jackson, a spokesman for Duncan, responded that the Democratic Party has “no credibility to comment on any topic related to national security."
"It is unfortunate that we have a major party in this nation that still refuses to even acknowledge the real threat of radical Islamic terrorism threatening the safety and security of American citizens every day,” Jackson wrote in an email.
Most of Duncan's comments at Wednesday's hearing dealt with his opposition to tougher gun-control laws.
"More gun laws are not the answer," said Duncan, who is seeking a fourth term in a district that includes Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties.
Duncan is being challenged by Democrat Hosea Cleveland, a Seneca businessman.
Gun-free zones should be eliminated in schools and churches, Duncan argued, specifically referring to a mass shooting last year at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston that resulted in nine deaths.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana who spoke immediately after Duncan at the hearing, said the suggestion that more guns would make the nation safer "is dead wrong."