UPDATED: As he continues his town hall tour, House Speaker Thom Tillis is becoming a political enigma.
He showed reserve in his statement about last week's incentives meltdown and even touted green energy Monday.
But at a Saturday event in Madison County, he told a GOP crowd that he supports drug testing North Carolinians who receive government assistance -- a favorite issues for far-right Republicans. "If we come back in 2013, I don't know if we'll go as far as Florida, but if you're receiving government assistance, and every once in a while we want to do random drug tests, done on a fair basis, I think we should do it," he told the crowd. (See his remarks on YouTube here.)
Asked later about expanding the drug testing to state employees, Tillis said, "I agree with that."
Tillis threw out more conservative red meat: suggesting that not everyone who receives government assistance deserves it, such as a "woman who has chosen to have three or four kids out of wedlock."
"What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance," Tillis told the crowd.
"We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you," he continued.
All these changes, Tillis said, won't happen next legislative session -- "wrong time because it's going to be politically charged," he said. But possibly in 2013 if Republicans retain control.
Tillis interesting foreshadows potential political fallout from his remarks, adding: "Some of these things may just get me railroaded out of town." What a way to go out, a crowd member told him. "Geronimo," Tillis replied.
Later, Democrats jumped on the proposal, suggesting it doesn't work and costs more than it saves. "As usual, Speaker Thom Tillis is focused on dividing North Carolinians instead of bringing them together. By trying to humiliate our most underprivileged and poverty-stricken citizens it's clear that Thom Tillis is nothing more than a school-yard bully—he should be ashamed of himself," said N.C. Democratic Party Chairman David Parker in a statement.