NC Gov. Bev Perdue, Democrat, said Tuesday that congressional elections should be suspended so the nation can deal with the economy.

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

Facing the inevitable uproar that ensued, Perdue’s staff scrambled and called the line a “joke” and “hyperbole.” Very few bought that spin, and now newly released audio of Perdue’s comments proves that she was not joking at all. Her tone is straight, flat and serious. No one in the audience laughs.