Just days after Jason Lewis announced he was running for Congress in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District, Lewis questioned the role of the federal government in outlawing slavery in an update to his audio book.
In his book, "Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States' Rights" Lewis also wrote that President Abraham Lincoln "exploited the issue" of slavery, adding the Civil War, or what Lewis called the "War Between the States," had "more to do with secession" than slavery.
When asked if the Civil War was worth fighting during an interview in 2011 about his book, Lewis did not respond with a clear answer and eventually said it was "kinda hard to say."
As Lewis battles with six other candidates for the Republican nomination for Congress in Minnesota's Second Congressional District, his comments on states' rights and the Civil War provide insight into his beliefs on the appropriate role of the federal government and they also provide material for his political opponents.
Days after Lewis announced his campaign for Congress, Lewis released an updated addition of new material in his audio book from 2011. In the bonus commentary, Lewis discussed recent decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, including the ruling which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.
In his criticism of the court's ruling which legalized same-sex marriage, Lewis questions the federal government's role in defining marriage and also in outlawing slavery:
In fact, if you really want to be quite frank about it, how does somebody else owning a slave affect me? It doesn’t. If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say ‘well if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t. Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.
Lewis later said "social decisions" should be left "to the collective wisdom of the states and the people. Because the courts are not smart enough to know what the answer is."
In response to a request for clarification on his statements about Lincoln, Lewis' campaign released a statement from Lewis highlighting historical citations which Lewis argues validates his claims.
While Lewis called the goal of ending slavery "laudable" in his book, he also wrote that the Civil War Amendments have "regrettably grown to include the policy preferences of individual judges that have little to do with the plain language of a particular amendment."
Brian McClung, a public relations executive and former spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was critical of Lewis' comments.
"To begin with, defending the institution of slavery in any manner is abhorrent and out-of-bounds," said McClung, who added, "this also highlights the fact that Lewis' outrageous and often indefensible statements are a treasure trove of opposition research that would be used by Democrats to destroy him in a general election fight in a closely divided swing district."
Earlier this week, Lewis was strongly criticized for comments he made on his radio about women.
In 2012, Lewis called women “simply ignorant of the important issues in life,” and he said most young women are “non-thinking,” during his radio show.
Lewis defended his comments, saying “[l]iberal reporters and typical politicians may not like the bluntness of the way I’ve framed some issues in my career.”
Picture source: Jason Lewis for Congress