Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin says that a Republican senator called President Barack Obama "exotic" during a closed-door meeting last month.
"I'm not naming any names, but one senator got up from a southern state and said, 'Well, you've got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like he's exotic,'" the Iowa Democrat said. "That he’s just exotic, he doesn't share our values."
Harkin revealed the comment during a wide-ranging interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register on Wednesday.
He said the comment came during the July 15, bipartisan meeting in the Old Senate Chamber where senators gathered to try and work out a way to avoid a floor standoff over changes to the Senate's rules governing filibusters of executive branch nominees.
During the conversation with the Des Moines Register, Harkin also said he wasn't sure how a deal would come together on legislative priorities, including the five-year farm bill, after the August recess. The Senate has agreed to go to conference to work out a deal on the farm program legislation, but the House departed for recess without taking that step.
Asked whether there were other periods in American history with partisan polarization like what Washington's currently experiencing, Harkin said, "Sure – the Civil War," the Register reported.