Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., recounted how close he was to getting in a full-on brawl with a union leader during his appearance on CNN.
The freshman senator had previously traded barbs with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, who had challenged Mullin to a fight on social media, writing in June: “Quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy.”
Mullin, a former MMA fighter, responded by offering to physically battle right in the middle of the Senate hearing, which was quickly halted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
During a CNN interview, Mullin said he has no regrets.
“What happens all the time is that you’ve got these keyboard warriors that’s gonna go out there and run their mouth all the time, and then they don’t ever have to face the consequences,” Mullin told CNN’s Dana Bash on Wednesday. “And people tell me all the time, you know, this isn’t becoming of the United States senator and I remind people I’m a guy from Oklahoma first. And there’s consequences for doing some of this. I get those people on social media that will do this constantly, I’ve never seen them. This guy I did, and this was his first time. He did this to me five separate times. I ignored it every time, and then the last time… when he said, you know, where to find me anytime, anywhere, cowboy, I thought, you know, maybe this could be a good thing.”
Mullin told Bash that he previously floated challenging O’Brein to a fight for charity, which went unanswered by O’Brien.
Bash then asked Mullin to explain what was behind him reaching for his wedding ring as he got up to combat the union leader during the hearing.
“First thing I thought of when I stood up, I thought, ‘I’m gonna break my hand on this guy’s face. I’m gonna take my wedding ring off,'” Mullin said. “Because when you’re fighting and you learn how to punch correctly, you really shouldn’t break for him, but when you’re aren’t doing it with wraps — ”
“You actually thought you were gonna come to blows in that moment,” Bash interjected.
“I had full intentions of doing it. Absolutely,” Mullin responded.
When asked to respond to comments by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., suggesting Mullin shouldn’t have been so confrontational in order to be a better example for children, Mullin doubled down.
“I tell my kids you’re responsible for your words. If you want to be a bully, expect to be treated like that, and if you should be able to stand up for other people that are being bullied too,” Mullin said. “I’m not somebody that’s gonna say we go around and fight all the time. I got paid to fight, but I will say that every now and then you do, and he should be taught a lesson, because you can’t simply just continue to do this. So at what point does the line get drawn?”
The senator invoked Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln as examples of American politicians who famously challenged others to physical battle.
“I’m not saying that that has to happen, but I’m saying that people like him, this ‘mob-mentality’ Teamster boss that wants to sit there and continue to do that because he thinks he can intimidate people. At some point that has to stop too, because I’m not supposed to just sit there and absorb it,” Mullin said. “He needs to be called out for his actions. The fortunate thing is I’m capable of doing it, what about the people that can’t? I can do something about it, and maybe I can stop him from doing it again. What are you supposed to do with bullies? Ignore them or stand up to them? He’s a bully and I want to stand up to him.”
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