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Congressman Derided for Laughing at Suggestion to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

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A candidate for Congress in California's 30th district is calling on Democratic U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra to "clarify his reaction" caught on a YouTube video that depicts the lawmaker laughing at the suggestion that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited prior to a Feb. 20 meeting. (YouTube)

If the Pledge of Allegiance is a laughing matter, then the joke may be on a California congressman.

A Republican candidate for Congress in California is calling on U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra to "clarify his reaction" after the Democrat was caught on a YouTube video laughing at a suggestion that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited prior to a union meeting in Los Angeles.

The 46-second video was captured by an unidentified staffer who accompanied candidate Ari David to a Service Employees International Union meeting on Saturday. By early Tuesday, the video had been viewed roughly 10,000 times.

David will not be opposing Becerra in November; he is running to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman in a neighboring district. He said he attended the meeting in Becerra's district in hopes of meeting with Waxman, who he said was an invited guest.

On the video, a man off camera can be heard saying: "I'm here for Ari David for Congress. Can we start this meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Hilarity ensues, most notably on behalf of an unidentified woman standing behind a lectern. Becerra, seated on stage, can be seen smiling and stifling his laughter as he bends slightly forward in his chair.

"No, I'm serious," David's staffer continues. "Congressman, shouldn't we say the Pledge of Allegiance if we all want to be citizens? Wouldn't that be appropriate to say the Pledge of Allegiance?"

"Sure, of course," the woman on stage replies. "OK, let's go for it -- you lead."

The pledge is then recited by everyone in the room, followed by raucous applause.

David told Fox News he found Becerra's reaction "completely inappropriate," adding: "I was stunned as an American that one of our members of Congress would act that way.

"Considering these people want immigration reform, shouldn't they say the national anthem before a public meeting with their elected official there?"

If Becerra thought the situation was comical, it was the congressman's "prerogative" to laugh, David said.

"Is it that offensive of a notion to be asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance?" the candidate continued.

Becerra defended the reaction in a statement to Fox News, saying: 

"On the morning of February 20th, I was invited to address some 500 people gathered to discuss the human tragedy of a broken immigration system and the need to fix it. At some point during that meeting, a political operative for a congressional campaign asked if we could recite the pledge of allegiance. The meeting was already under way and the question was unexpected. It took us all by surprise. When the speaker explained that he was serious and asked me specifically if we could say the pledge, I said yes and gestured to the moderator, who then led the entire gathering in reciting the pledge."