Matt Salmon's job was to show up at the San Tan Charter School and give a fun civics lesson to curious second- and third-graders. But the Arizona congressman's appearance last week veered off the topic of vetoes—using the Iran nuclear deal as an example, which the Washington Post notes was "pretty heavy for this demographic, no?"—and got into something that, ostensibly, he thought kids could relate to. Per KPHO, after asking kids, "Do you know what a nuclear weapon is?" Salmon continued, "Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?" The principal sent a letter to parents afterward, noting he tried to turn the tide to a Q&A "to divert the conversation," but that "the topic again turned to ISIS and terrorists"—at which point another adult thanked Salmon for coming and ended the event, the Post reports.
Parents aren't happy—one dad tells KHPO that "after school my daughter was very concerned and said to me she actually didn't even know what suicide was and was very afraid"—and Salmon's office is now in damage control mode. "It was never Congressman Salmon's intention to offend any parents," his rep says, per the Arizona Republic, though he adds a deflection of sorts that "the content of those remarks wasn't anything beyond what children could expect to see or hear on any timely TV or radio newscast." But Salmon did call several parents to apologize, including the dad of the frightened girl. "In today's political climate, that was a genuine and welcome gesture," the dad tells the Post. "I might not agree with his opinions on policy and what he did in this specific incident was wrong, but it did restore some of my faith in our democracy." (Ted Cruz told a 3-year-old "the world is on fire.")