New York State Sen. Lee Zeldin says Democrats try to portray all Republicans as right-wing extremists.
"I'm proud to be a conservative Republican, and when people try to attach labels beyond that, I come out of the gate," Zeldin, a Republican, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"[Democrats] call every single Republican running for office anywhere in the country ... automatically, a right-wing, tea-party extremist. It's unfortunate."
As well, Zeldin believes, the liberal media adds fuel to the political fire by playing up the so-called GOP civil war.
"I was watching as Republicans kept negotiating against themselves and wanting to have a dialogue to talk about a ... host of possible solutions [to the budget and debt-ceiling crises]," he said.
"The only one that was not acceptable, and I don't blame the Republicans for having a problem with this ... was [President] Barack Obama and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid saying we want it 100 percent our way."
Zeldin — who is seeking the congressional seat in New York's eastern Suffolk County in 2014 now held by Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop — said he is motivated to serve in Washington by the dysfunction on Capitol Hill.
"I watch what's going on down there and that actually motivates me even more because it highlights just how much of a need there is to have representatives down there," he said.
"Whether you are liberal, moderate or conservative, we need to have more reasonable, rational people, and it's unfortunate the [level of] dysfunction and fiscal insanity that's going on down there."
He said he wants to help solve the nation's ongoing debt problem.
"Individuals, families, small businesses, local governments, we all live on a budget, we look at revenues and expenses, we care that they're balanced," he said.
"And if there's any entity in this entire country that should be passing a budget it should be the federal government, and as our national debt approaches $17 trillion, there's a really good question out there … Congress [needs] to answer … When is enough, enough?"
"If we're OK with expanding a debt limit at $17 trillion, what are we not OK with — $20 trillion, $25 trillion? Let's pick a number, set a date in the future, and decide what kind of real reforms we are going to make between now and that date so that we don't keep passing the buck."
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