It’s been one year since the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy report” diagnosed the party’s shortcomings on issues for minority, women, and gay voters. But has the GOP made progress in becoming a more “inclusive and welcoming” national party?
In the past two weeks alone, Republicans have made disparaging and almost regressive comments about equal pay, poverty, race, and women.
“Our best weapon may just be Republicans themselves,” said Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, at a press conference Tuesday, insisting that the Democratic Party will maintain control of the Senate after the midterms.
Here are five recent things Republicans have said that might stall their progress.
1. Paul Ryan blaming poverty on the lack of a work ethic in inner cities
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan weighed in on the national poverty issue and boiled it down to work ethic, or a lack thereof.
“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” the former vice presidential candidate said on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show.
A day later, Ryan acknowledged his comments were “inarticulate” and that he was not generalizing “the culture of one community, but of society as a whole.”
2. Wyoming Republican legislator defends book he wrote about gay people and HIV/AIDS
Rep. Troy Mader is standing by a book he wrote nearly 30 years ago that says gays demand the right to have sex with children, and that people with AIDS should be quarantined if they continue having sex.
According to The Casper Star-Tribune, which initially broke the story, Mader self-published a book in 1987 and titled it The Death Sentence of AIDS: Vital Information For You and Your Family’s Health and Safety.
“Many homosexuals demand the right to kill themselves with the AIDS virus and to kill others by infecting them,” Mader wrote.
“Many homosexuals demand the right to have sexual acts with children of any age, including infants,” he wrote in another section.
Last month, the new state lawmaker, who was appointed to replace Rep. Sue Wallis, told the Tribune he doesn’t think it is up to the government to change the definition of marriage.
“We don’t have standing to change the definition of marriage,” he said in an interview. “We didn’t make it. Either nature did, if you believe in evolution, or God did, if you believe in the Bible. But either way, it happened at a time and we can’t effect that change.”
3. A South Dakota lawmaker said he believes that businesses should have the right to refuse services to black customers
Phil Jensen, a Republican state senator in South Dakota, said he believes that business owners should have the right to refuse services to black customers and not face legal repercussions for turning away certain customers.
In an interview with a local newspaper, he explained his support for a bill he sponsored “that would have ensured the freedom of businesses to choose their clientele.” Jensen told the Rapid City Journal that businesses should not face lawsuits for turning away certain customers because the free market would play a role in shutting down discrimination.
4. Texas woman says women are “too busy” to worry about equal pay
With voters closely watching the Texas gubernatorial race, both Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Wendy Davis are duking it out over the latest issue to emerge during the campaign – equal pay.
Cari Christman, executive director of the newly formed PAC Red State Women – a group that is hoping to boost support among Texas women voters with Abbott – responded to a question on equal pay laws, and may have perpetuated the “war on women” rhetoric with her answer. When Christman was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that President Obama signed into law in 2009, and if she had any ideas about how to close the gender pay gap, she continually stated that women are “busy.”
“If you look at it, women are extremely busy,” she said. “We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether working from home, and times are extremely busy. It’s a busy cycle for women, and we’ve got a lot to juggle. So when we look at this issue we think, what’s practical? And we want more access to jobs. We want to be able to get a higher education degree at the same time we’re working or raising a family.”
According to a new report, Texas men make $44,802 and Texas women make $35,453 or 79 cents on the dollar.
Another fellow female Republican lawmaker in Minnesota, said a few days later, that a series of bills proposing to raise the minimum wage, improve equal pay for women and protect paid sick leave made women “look like whiners.”
“We heard several bills last week about women’s issues and I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting us backwards in time,” State Rep. Andrea Kieffer said. ”We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women and almost making us look like whiners.”
5. Mike Huckabee said female opponents must be treated differently in political races
Former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee provided tutelage to current and future male candidates on how to run against women in political campaigns. “I’ve twice run against women opponents, and it’s a very different kind of approach,” Huckabee said in an interview with The New Republic. “For those of us who have some chivalry left, there’s a level of respect. … You treat some things as a special treasure; you treat others as common.”
Huckabee stood by his comments, saying that while he believes in equality, “equality doesn’t mean sameness.”