While Democrats have their knives out in response to Mike Huckabee’s comments that government shouldn’t help women who can’t control their “libidos,” Republican women are either defending the comments or shrugging them off.
The mood at the Republican National Committee meeting on Friday, where Huckabee made the comments a day earlier, was a mixture of frustration with the media and sympathy for what the former Arkansas governor was trying to say.
“I think they picked up on one little piece and I think overwhelmingly the tagline of the message was we are a party and should be united and support one another,” Jill Homan, a RNC committeewoman for the District of Columbia told TPM.
Toni Anne Dashiell, a committeewoman from Texas said Huckabee’s overall argument was that the Republican Party isn’t trying to put women into one category and treat them like single issue voters. Dashiell highlighted to TPM that she had created a Facebook group called Women R More which argues that “women are concerned about all issues and we don’t want to be put into a box.”
“I thought, you know what, if you listen to the whole speech and you listen to it all and not just focused into one area I thought it was perfect. He was right,” Dashiell said. “We are not labeling people, we do not put them into a box, we do not label them. We want to look at all issues and what is important to you, we support what is important to you. We’re not telling you what you should do.”
Other Republicans said Huckabee could have chosen his language better.
“I don’t think Huckabee’s comments in their entirety are as bad as they’re being made to sound by certain critics,” said Liz Mair, a consultant and former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “However, his choice of the word ‘libido’ was a bad one because, unfortunately, for many people– liberals as much as conservatives — ‘libido’ still has a negative connotation, especially when attached to women.”
Mair defended the crux of what she believed Huckabee was attempting to convey: that Obamacare’s contraception mandate is premised on the notion that “a vast swath of women are helpless to get a hold of the [birth control] pill … in the absence of government stepping in and mandating things.” She posited that “it would be nice if, rather than just blasting the contraception mandate using inartful language, Huckabee had talked about how making the pill available over the counter [as Bobby Jindal has suggested].”
John Feehery, a former top aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert who is now a lobbyist, said that while he doesn’t support the birth control requirement, “generally fighting about contraception is not good politics for the GOP.”
As for the Huckabee flap? Meh, he says. “[It] gets Mike Huckabee back in the news so that is good for him. Riles up MSNBC so it is good for them,” Feehery said. “[I’m] pretty sure that outside of those two discrete groups, nobody else cares.”
Pat Longo, an RNC committeewoman from Connecticut, offered an unqualified defense of Huckabee.
“I think he’s right. I certainly agree with him and I don’t want to pay for somebody’s abortion. I mean I’m very much pro-life,” Longo said.