Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey took to Twitter to criticize President Obama's handling of the Syrian conflict.
Maybe the coincidence of a 9/11 anniversary and the day after a major foreign policy address by a Democratic president was too much for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to resist.
Ramsey, a Republican who ran for governor three years ago and has led the state Senate since 2007, created a firestorm Wednesday with a tweet accusing President Barack Obama of siding with the same terrorist group in Syria that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.
"As the President attempts to ally w/ Al-Qaeda in Syria's civil war, we must always remember who attacked us on our soil 12 years ago," the @RonRamsey Twitter account posted around 9 a.m.
Some Syrian rebels have been tied to groups linked to al-Qaeda, though it's not clear that Obama has taken the rebels' side in their fight with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Obama has been lobbying Congress to authorize military strikes against Assad's government, which the United States says used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens. But Obama has acknowledged that the strikes wouldn't remove Assad from power.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, voted in a committee meeting to authorize military action by Obama, who gave the order to kill al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011.
The state's top Democrats condemned Ramsey's remark.
"This divisive rhetoric dishonors the memory of those who died on this day," House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh said. "Lt. Gov. Ramsey is either grossly misinformed or he has decided to be a partisan, instead of a patriot."
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron, a former state senator, said Ramsey couldn't have been the actual author, so he called on him to fire the person who wrote it.
"I've served too long with Ron Ramsey to think that he wrote that tweet," Herron said. "I think Speaker Ramsey is too smart to write something that stupid."
Dozens of people denounced the lieutenant governor — and a few applauded him — on Twitter, including Ian Morris @_Ian_8, who wrote, "@Ron Ramsey Ashamed that you represent my state. How petty and inaccurate. Making the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks about your politics."
Ramsey, whose Facebook page had a similar message, did not return calls seeking comment.