Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Democratic Senate leadership, got on a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning without realizing the reporters were already listening in. Schumer thought he was on a private line with four Democratic senators who were to talk with reporters about the current budget stalemate.
Schumer instructed the group, made up of Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Tom Carper of Delaware, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, to tell reporters that the GOP is refusing to negotiate.
He told the group to make sure they label the GOP spending cuts as "extreme."
"I always use extreme, Schumer said. "That is what the caucus instructed me to use."
Someone must have finally told Schumer that the media were listening and he stopped talking midsentence.
Here's a bit more of what he said about House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, according to my notes.
"The main thrust is basically that we want to negotiate and we want to come up with a compromise but the Tea Party is pulling Boehner too far over to the right and so far over that there is no more fruitful negotiations," Schumer said on the call. "The only way we can avoid a shutdown is for Boehner to come up with a reasonable compromise and not just listen to what the Tea Party wants. "
Schumer described Boehner as "in a box," over the budget negotiations.
The four senators came on the call after Schumer abruptly went silent and followed Schumer's script closely.
Coordinating the message is common in both parties, but it's uncommon for reporters to actually hear them rehearsing.