In a stunning moment, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was caught on camera admitting he wouldn’t even be addressing the protestors if he wasn’t up for re-election. Engel was attending an event in the Bronx and asked Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President if he could speak. The video of Engel’s request went viral as he can be seen and heard talking to Diaz: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” Engel says. When Diaz doesn’t hear him, Engel repeats the request. Diaz responded: “Don’t do that to me. We’re not going to do this,” he added, “Everybody has a primary.”

After the video and his comments drew backlash, he made the following statement to The Hill: “In the context of running for re-election, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that’s why I asked to speak,” Engel said. “Of course I care deeply about what’s happening in this country, that’s what I wanted to convey. I love the Bronx, grew up in the Bronx and lived here all my life. I would not have tried to impose on the Borough President if I didn’t think it was important.

Engel is running against progressive Democrat candidate, Jamaal Bowman, Former middle school principal for the NY16 District seat in the House of Representatives. Bowman tweeted in response to the Engle comment: “We need to be taking care of our communities right now — whether it’s election season or not,”.

Engle is running for his 17th term in Congress which began in 1989.