Thom Tillis speaks to supporters at a election night rally in Charlotte, N.C., after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
Chuck Burton/AP

Tillis finds new constituencies to offend

North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), his party’s U.S. Senate candidate this year, ran into a little trouble this week when a video from 2012 surfaced showing him identifying three main voting constituencies: African Americans, Hispanics, and “traditional” voters. In context, it sounded an awful lot like the Republican was referring to white people.
Yesterday, his opponent, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D), urged Tillis to apologize, though that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Instead, the GOP state lawmaker seems to be finding new voting constituencies to offend.
Last week, for example, during a debate on a tax credit for the film industry, Tillis rebuked a Democratic lawmaker over a policy disagreement, saying her position was “born out of emotions.”
Making matters slightly worse, Tillis’ campaign yesterday responded to negative ads in North Carolina from Emily’s List.
The Tillis camp dismissed the strategy as an ineffective re-run.
“The left has been talking about a “war on women” for a couple of cycles now,” said Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ campaign manager. “It’s designed for the media and not grounded in reality and it’s based on scare tactics.”
Um, no, actually it’s not.
Let’s say  you’re a Republican Senate candidate who says states should have the right to ban contraceptives, with your big nod to reproductive rights being that you refuse to say if you think your own state should ban contraceptives. Let’s further say that, under your leadership of the state legislature, your party sneaked a host of anti-abortion provisions onto a motorcycle safety bill. So basically, let’s say you’re North Carolina’s Thom Tillis. And, in your U.S. Senate race, facing a Democratic woman, you’re going to face some war on women charges. Quick: How does your campaign respond? […]
[Y]our campaign mansplains that, despite your extensive record of taking positions and passing bills that hurt women, the idea that you are bad for women is just some kind of hysterical nonsense.
The Tillis campaign is correct to say that the left “has been talking about a ‘war on women’ for a couple of cycles now.” But that’s largely because it’s true and because it’s effective.
If Tillis and his allies want this rhetoric to go away, they could consider pursuing a different policy agenda – perhaps one that doesn’t restrict reproductive rights, limit contraception access, and close women’s health clinics.
I suspect the left will stop “talking about a ‘war on women’ ” when it stops being true.