POLITICS
07/22/2013 09:01 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2013

Steve Cohen Defends Controversial Statements On Reporter, Race

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday, where he defended controversial statements he made in the wake of learning the woman he believed was his daughter is not related to him.

Host Mika Brzezinski asked Cohen about a tweet he sent Saturday:

Cohen said his tweet was prompted by a conversation he had with a tow truck driver after his car broke down on a "tough night."

"I drive an '86 Caddy. A lot of African-Americans drive old cars -- a stereotype-- a lot of African-Americans drive old cars," Cohen said. "I'm having no luck. He drives me, we ditch the car, I come out and I tell him the story... Find daughter, great. Find out it's not daughter, blitz... He goes, 'Man, you're black.' And I took it as a compliment. I hear it in Memphis all the time. My constituents don't look at me as a white person, they say, 'You're one of us.'"

Cohen added that he is often approached by constituents at basketball games in Tennessee.

"Black guys that sell the cars come up and grab me by around the chest and pull me up and say, 'You can't have him, he's ours.'"

Cohen also raised eyebrows last week when he told a female reporter that she was "very attractive," but he wouldn't give her further comment on the paternity matter. During the "Morning Joe" interview, Cohen said he was "attacked" for his remarks.

"Say something nice to a reporter, get attacked," Cohen said.

Cohen learned last week via a paternity test that he is not the father of Victoria Brink, a woman he tweeted at during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

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