Jason Lewis, who is running for Congress in Minnesota's Second Congressional District, is facing strong criticism today from fellow Republicans - including a call for Lewis to end his campaign - for past comments he made on his radio show about women.
On his radio show on November 7, 2012, Lewis made the following comments about women:
I never thought in my lifetime where’d you have so many single, or I should say, yeah single women who would vote on the issue of somebody else buying their diaphragm. This is a country in crisis. Those women are ignorant in, I mean, the most generic way. I don’t mean that to be a pejorative. They are simply ignorant of the important issues in life. Somebody’s got to educate them. [Audio here]
There's something about young, single women where they’re behaving like Stepford wives. They walk in lock step – is that really the most important thing to a 25-year old unmarried woman – uh getting me to pay for her pills? Seriously?! Is that what we’ve been reduced to? You can be bought off for that? [Audio here]
You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about 'The View.' They are non-thinking. [Audio here]
In a statement released by his campaign tonight, Lewis defended his past comment and said:
Liberal reporters and typical politicians may not like the bluntness of the way I’ve framed some issues in my career as a voice in the conservative movement. As the father of two young daughters, I’m not going to back away from the fight now, especially after two disastrous terms of failed leadership under President Obama. I expressed in 2012 that I opposed taxpayer funding for abortion and contraceptives, and my position hasn’t changed. I will always stand in defense of innocent life and against taxpayer funding for entities like Planned Parenthood.
Kathie Roberts, a Republican activist in the Second Congressional District and a supporter of Lewis' candidacy, said she agrees with Lewis' statements. Roberts said the political demographics of the district favor Republicans and she predicted the comments would have "relatively little impact" on Lewis' campaign.
Back in December, the campaign manager of one of Lewis' Republican rivals for Congress, Pam Myhra, highlighted the political liability of Lewis' past work as a radio show host, saying it provided "25 years of sound bites for Democrats to use" against Lewis.
Lewis is not the first candidate for political office in Minnesota to face criticism for statements made in their past works as entertainers. During his successful 2008 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Al Franken responded to numerous complaints from Republicans and Democrats about his past work as a political satirist.
All of Lewis' main rivals for the Republican nomination for Congress expressed concerns today with Lewis' past comments.
In a statement released by her campaign, Myhra called for Lewis' to terminate his campaign for Congress, calling his statements "belittling, offensive, and shameful."
"Since his outrageous statements demonstrate he cannot represent over half the people of the district, he should terminate his campaign for Congress immediately," said Myhra, who previously served two-terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
David Gerson, an engineer from South Saint Paul, said the statements from Lewis are "clearly offensive toward young women." Gerson added that while Lewis "may have made these statements as a political entertainer...he has to own them as a congressional candidate."
Gerson said Lewis' comments "will be damaging to his image, they will cost him support, and we don't know what else has not yet come to light." With "decades worth of Lewis' shows out there," Gerson asked, "how often are we going to be seeing this sort of headline?"
Former state Senator John Howe said the statements from Lewis, "directly call into question his temperament and electability." Howe added that he "questions what else is out there," on Lewis' radio show and podcasts that could jeopardize the chances of Republicans winning the seat if Lewis is the Republican candidate for Congress.
Darlene Miller, the CEO of Permac Industries, said Lewis' "demeaning comments about women are disturbing and untrue." Miller asked, "how can someone hope to represent everyone, when they so viciously insult women?"
Miller said she was "proud to be one of the many strong, intelligent women in Minnesota," adding she "will represent all the men and women of the Second District and will treat them with respect."
Larry Jacobs, a political-science professor at the University of Minnesota said Lewis' appeal in the endorsement process or primary "may not be impacted much" by these comments. But Jacobs' said if Lewis was the Republican nominee for Congress, these comments "would be devastating in the general election."
Democrats in the Second Congressional District have consolidated their support behind Angie Craig, a former health care executive from Eagan.
Picture source: Jason Lewis for Congress