Rep. Joe Garcia told NBC 6 in an exclusive interview Wednesday that communism is "evil," as he tried to clarify a recent remark on communism that had sparked conservatives' ire.
The freshman Democratic congressman had said during a Google chat about immigration reform that "communism works." He distanced himself from the comment Wednesday, telling NBC 6's Adam Kuperstein he had tried to make an analogy that fell flat.
"Look, clearly I don’t believe it works," he said of communism, admitting he "could have been more articulate" in his analogy. "Clearly I know that this is a system of government that is evil," he added.
"My grandfather died under house arrest in Cuba,” Garcia told NBC 6. "I'm under no illusions of what evil is, and clearly I've spent my whole life battling for freedom and democracy. The idea that I’m somehow holding up the opposite of that is ridiculous."
Garcia said the point he had been trying to make with his remark Tuesday was that the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars on the border but is not solving underlying fundamental problems by failing to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
"What is clear is we have a broken immigration system," Garcia said.
Garcia had swiftly come under fire over the remarks during his Google chat Tuesday.
“Two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico. And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that communism works. If you give everybody a good, government job, there’s no crime. But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border,” he said.
The line about communism works was seized upon by the conservative media and by Garcia’s GOP opponent Carlos Curbelo, whose campaign tweeted that the Republican "hates" communism.
Garcia is fighting for his political seat in the west Miami-Dade County Congressional district this fall.
Republicans are confident they will be able to flip the seat and increase their majority in the House of Representatives come the November election.