ABC News' Teddy Davis reports:
When voters in New Orleans chose a Republican with Vietnamese roots to replace indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson on Dec. 6, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a memo saying, "The Future Is Cao."
But now that Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao is in Congress, he has been quoted by the liberal Huffington Post as saying: "Don't tell the Republicans, but I might be a closet Democrat."
Is Cao, who is facing a tough re-election fight in his heavily Democratic district, thinking about switching parties?
No way says his top aide.
"Joe has had zero intention of ever changing parties. That's a non-story," Cao chief of staff Clayton Hall told ABC News. "My understanding is that he did it in a joking manner to rounds of laughter."
Cao made his "closet Democrat" comment on Tuesday evening while speaking to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in Washington, D.C. Of CAPAC's 23 members, Cao is the group's lone Republican member. The other House members, senators, and congressional delegates who belong to CAPAC are all Democrats.
A CAPAC spokeswoman corroborates Cao's office on the question of tone, saying the remarks were made in a "light-hearted manner."
"If his chief says they were made in jest, I would have to believe him on that," Gloria Chan, CAPAC's communications director, told ABC News. "We welcome him as a new member of Congress and we're not trying to change his party membership."