The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reports that Florida congressman Connie Mack IV, a candidate for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012, called the budget recently passed by the House of Representatives a "joke."

"You know that budget was a joke, doesn’t balance the budget for years,” Mack said at a recent campaign event in Florida. But two weeks ago, Mack's congressional spokeswoman Lisa Griffin told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email, prior to the House vote on Ryan's budget, that Mack "intends to vote for it."

But the four-term Republican missed the vote on March 29 because he was campaigning in Florida. Mack's GOP primary opponent, former senator George LeMieux, has criticized Mack for missing the vote.

"Paul Ryan’s Budget is not a joke, Connie Mack the Fourth is a joke," LeMieux said in a statement emailed to reporters.

Caputo reports that the Mack campaign is now claiming the congressman was talking about the "process" when he called the budget a joke.

Mack spokesman David James also sought to clarify that Mack didn't mean to criticize the conservative plan itself -- which President Obama roundly bashed Tuesday in a campaign-style speech.

"The vote was the 'joke,' as in the process being a joke, not the Ryan plan itself. And Connie said the vote was a joke," James said in an email. "He supports they Ryan plan but the process is a joke when the GOP House continues to do the right things and the liberal Senate under [Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [Florida Sen. Bill] Nelson continue to kill fiscally responsible measures."

The above quotation from Mack himself, however, seems to be critical of the plan authored by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. Mack spokesman David James tried to clarify, telling TWS that Mack believes the "whole process," including the House budget and the Senate's inaction on a budget, is a "joke."

"The [Ryan] plan has a lot of brave proposals in it, but it still doesn’t get to the fundamental problem, which is why Americans are angry," James says.

Only 10 House Republicans voted against the budget.

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