Three years ago, after Republicans suffered through a rough 2012 election cycle, Kellyanne Conway, a top GOP pollster, told her party that it really needs to stop talking about rape. As long-time readers may recall, several statewide Republicans lost in 2012 in large part because of comments about rape in the context of abortion rights, and the pollster said the party needed to learn lessons from the defeats.
Conway said at the time that the GOP should consider rape a “four-letter word.”
And yet, some Republican officials still haven’t quite learned the lesson. The Spokesman-Review reported last week:
Idaho lawmakers ratcheted up the abortion debate Thursday, as one state representative said he believes rape and incest are unlikely to result in pregnancy. […]During the hearing Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”
According to the local report, when Nielsen faced pushback, he stood by the comments, insisting “trauma” makes pregnancies less likely. Asked how he knew that, the Idaho Republican said, “That’s information that I’ve had through the years. Whether it’s totally accurate or not, I don’t know.”
Nielsen added, “I read a lot of information. I have read it several times.”
Congratulations, Idaho, you now have your very own Todd Akin.
Akin, of course, was the Missouri Republican who was his party’s U.S. Senate nominee in 2012. His candidacy ran into some trouble, however, when the then-GOP congressman famously said women impregnated during a “legitimate rape” have a magical ability to “shut that whole thing down.”
Akin soon after lost by 15 points.
It immediately became clear to Republicans elsewhere that such ridiculous rhetoric would be costly to their careers. Given last week’s developments in Idaho, it seems some in the GOP may need a refresher course.