The need is obvious. Republicans have lost the last two presidential elections, and Democrats control the U.S. Senate. Engrained in GOP struggles has been its inability to shake its well-earned reputation of being the party of middle-aged and older white men. All sorts of nonpartisan polling data have long proved that point.
To make hay in November — and increase their changes in the 2016 presidential race — the increasingly isolated Republicans must reach out to those they’ve either rarely had or have lost, black voters, young voters, Hispanic voters and female voters among them. President Obama received 11 percent more votes from women than did Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
If politics is like a love affair, offending a potential suitor isn’t the way to their heart. Look no further than Alabama’s Republicans, who ushered in an abominable anti-illegal immigration law in 2011 that further damaged the GOP brand among the state’s Hispanic voters.
This week, former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has provided another example of how not to court voters, albeit on a much larger scale.
While delivering a luncheon speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington, the former Arkansas governor and evangelical pastor said Democrats were trying to win women’s votes by telling them “they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
Call it what it is: inciteful, humiliating, offensive.
Likewise, it is yet another recent instance in which prominent Republicans — in or out of office — have made demeaning comments about women. Former Rep. Todd Akin, of Missouri, made headlines in 2012 when he said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. Two other Republicans, state Sen. Richard Black, of Virginia, and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, of New Mexico, have made similar comments about women that have gained national attention. Black, who once tried to justify marital rape, this week ended his congressional bid. Pearce, the Washington Post reports, wrote in his new book that wives should “voluntarily submit” to their husbands.
No party is wholly immune from candidates who stray off message or offend. All parties can field their share of errant souls. But Republican voters — and Americans at large — should wonder why these types of offensive comments seem to recur in today’s GOP.
If this is part of Republicans’ attempt to reach out to female voters, it’s sure to fail.