WASHINGTON – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked Rep. Jim Moran Friday to step down from his elected post as a regional whip after comments he made last week suggesting Jews are responsible for the push for war against Iraq.
"I have taken this action because Congressman Moran's irresponsible remarks were a serious mistake," Pelosi said. "As I said earlier this week, his comments were not only inappropriate, they were offensive and have no place in the Democratic Party."
Last week, Moran attended a question-and-answer session with several anti-war activists. Answering a question, the Virginia lawmaker said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this. ... The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should."
The remarks sparked a fury among local leaders and the Jewish community, with several calling for his resignation last Tuesday. On Wednesday, six Democratic House members called on Moran not to seek re-election in 2004, saying that if he did, they would not be able to support him.
For his part, Moran has apologized several times for the remarks, saying he was trying to explain the influence of all religious groups.
"It's just my ineptitude in not being able to think faster to be able to flesh out the position I was trying to express," he told Fox News.
On Friday, Moran said he would step down from "as a way to demonstrate acceptance of my responsibility for insensitive remarks I recently made."
"I will continue to reach out to the Jewish community and others who were offended by my remarks," he said. "Most importantly, I will strive to learn from my mistakes and listen to the concerns of my constituents."
Moran's slip last week was not the first in a long list of demonstrated temper tantrums and poor judgment calls. In 1995, he was involved in a shoving match on the floor of the House. On another occasion, he threatened to punch Republican Rep. Dan Burton in the nose.
In 2000, he reportedly grabbed an 8-year-old boy by the scruff of the neck, claiming the boy was trying to steal his car. Police were once called to break up a domestic argument between the congressman and his now ex-wife.
Moran admitted that he's rough around the edges.
"You know, it's not a neat fit for me to be up here in the Congress. I may wear a tie, but I'm probably not meant to be in the Congress," he said Wednesday.
Moran was elected three years ago as regional whip by his colleagues in the mid-Atlantic region.
Fox News' Brian Wilson contributed to this report.