After Republicans did a bang-up job at minority outreach last week, it was tempting to think the party couldn’t possibly make matters worse. Think again.
A Nevada assemblyman came under fire Monday after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican gathering he would vote to allow slavery if that is what his constituents wanted him to do.“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah,” Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told members of the Storey County Republican Party at a meeting in August.
The comments have not been well received by Nevada Republican leaders, who are rushing to distance themselves from the GOP state lawmaker. The Republicans’ state Senate leader, for example, suggested Wheeler “find a new line of work.”
For his part, Wheeler published an explanation of sorts on his personal website, saying that his point was only that he’s inclined to support literally any position embraced by his constituents. It’s not that he endorses slavery, only that he would allow slavery if his constituents wanted him to.
Remember, this is supposed to be his defense.
Wheeler then seemed to shift gears a bit, saying the exact opposite: “If my constituents wanted to do something as outlandish as bring back an abhorrent system, then I simply couldn’t represent them anymore. They would remove me from office, or I’d have to resign.”
In other words, he would and wouldn’t allow slavery, depending on the whims of voters in his area.
Wheeler added his “sincerely apologizes” if his comments “were taken with offense by anyone.”
And the Republican Party’s minority-outreach efforts take yet another step backwards.