When Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) tweeted, and then deleted, several effusive messages to a young blonde woman during the State of the Union address earlier this week, some people got Anthony Weiner flashbacks.
But Cohen has now come forward with an unusual explanation for the tweets: the young woman is his daughter, who the Congressman only found out about three years ago.
“When she let me know she was watching the State of the Union address I was thrilled that she wanted Steve Cohen to be part of her,” Cohen told NBC News on Thursday. “I had such joy, that I couldn’t hold back from tweeting her.”
Cohen made the admission after press reports raised questions about the tweets Cohen traded with a 24-year-old woman named Victoria Brink during President Obama’s address on Tuesday. That night, Brink wrote “just saw you on tv!” to Cohen less than midway through the speech, to which Cohen responded “pleased u r watching .ilu” and “nice to know you were watchin SOTU(state of the union).Happy Valentines beautiful girl. ilu.” (“ilu” is short for “I love you” or “I like you.”) The tweets were later deleted, and Cohen’s spokesperson at first told reporters they were meant to be private direct messages, and that Brink was the daughter of one of Cohen’s longtime friends.
But on Thursday, Cohen, who is not married, gave his story to NBC News. Without providing too many details, Cohen said he had looked up Brink’s mother three years ago.
“I googled her mother, found out she had a child and the math looked pretty accurate,” he said. “The mom told me we had a lot of catching up to do.”
Since then, Cohen said, he has gotten to know Brink well, and she has accompanied him to a White House Christmas party.
“I’ve been able to take her on a tour of the Capitol and the White House, I want her to see my world and be a part of it,” he said.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com