GOP Reps Learn How Not To Gaffe When Taking On Female Opponents

The last thing the Republican Party wants to see in the next election season is a Todd Akin 2.0.

So the National Republican Congressional Committee has met with incumbents’ aides to train them on “messaging against women opponents,” Politico reported Thursday.

Akin tanked his 2012 campaign to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) when he argued against abortion by claiming the female body could shut down a pregnancy that resulted from “legitimate rape.” Democrats have used such comments to accuse Republicans of waging a “war on women” ever since.

A GOP aide told Politico that the NRCC held “multiple sessions” with incumbents’ aides on messaging in races where the challenger is a woman. By Politico’s count, at least 10 male GOP incumbents in the House of Representatives face Democratic women challengers in the 2014 midterm elections.

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) top aides also held a meeting with GOP staff to discuss how legislators should talk to female constituents, although a Republican staffer who attended the meeting told Politico that “some of these guys have a lot to learn.”

In terms of fielding the party’s own female candidates, NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) told Politico the party is running more female challengers than in the last cycle, naming Utah’s Mia Love and Arizona’s Martha McSally. He also said party leaders have addressed messaging against female opponents with its incumbents.

“You need to be very careful in how you approach any group and what you say,” Walden said. “That’s just Politics 101.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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