CONYERS -- It seems that almost everyone with an opinion has weighed in on Rep. Hank Johnson's comment last week regarding the Pacific island of Guam "capsizing" -- including his opponents in his bid for re-election.
Johnson, D-Lithonia, received criticism following comments he made during a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week that the Pacific island of Guam could "tip over and capsize" if too many U.S. Marines were stationed there.
Johnson issued a statement later that day clarifying that he was using a metaphor, "albeit with a dry sense of humor," but not before thousands on the Internet had weighed in on the video clip of the exchange with USN Adm. Robert Willard.
Johnson's two Democratic opponents -- Former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones and current DeKalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes -- were kind in their assessment of Johnson. Both also served with Johnson when he was a county commissioner.
Jones, who was dealing with a federal court decision against him in a reverse race discrimination lawsuit brought by former DeKalb County employees, wished Johnson the best.
"He's a good man, who has service at his heart, and I'm praying for him," Jones said at his press conference last week.
Stokes reacted to Johnson's statement that he was kidding about Guam tipping over by saying that the House committee was not the right setting for jokes.
"We need to take it very, very seriously because here we are talking about moving Marines to Guam which, to me, appears to be a strategic area for our national defense in the north Pacific," she said Thursday. "It's no laughing matter."
Among the Republican candidates, Liz Carter's campaign offered a 50-second YouTube clip called "Yank Hank." The clip shows a caricature of Johnson on a stage with the audio of the Guam comments running. Before the clip ends, Carter appears from the side and pulls Johnson off stage with a shepherd's hook.
"Enough is really enough. We have to break the cycle of bad representation and embarrassment in District 4," reads an e-mail sent out last week by Carter's campaign announcing the "Yank Hank" ad clip and providing links to video of other comments made by Johnson.
Larry Gause released a statement that raised concerns over Johnson's ability to perform his job effectively after the congressman disclosed in January he was suffering from Hepatitis C.
"I believe we should recognize the toll the disease has taken on Hank and right now his focus needs to be on his health," Gause said in his statement. "Hank's disease has rendered him incapable of adequate representation for our district. I respect his service, even appreciate his vote against the TARP bill, but the evidence is too overwhelming with respect to the effects that Hepatitis C is having on his mind and body."
Cory Ruth echoed the same sentiments in his statement. "I pray God's best in his efforts to battle this disease, I am deeply concerned that he may be unable to fulfill his congressional responsibilities," Ruth said.
Ruth also admonished those who have made fun of Johnson's gaffe. "But it is important that we refrain from childish mocking and remain focused on bringing sustained economic growth to Georgia's 4th District, which needs new leadership that provides a clear voice, new energy, and innovative solutions to get Americans working again," he said.