Republican Senate candidate John Raese is standing by a controversial statement he made in his latest campaign for Senate from West Virginia — in which he compared mandatory no-smoking signs in businesses to the Star of David patches that Jews were forced to wear on their clothes in Nazi Germany.
“I can’t find anything in my statement and during my speech that wasn’t true,” Raese told the Charleston Daily Mail. “I’m not apologizing to anybody or any organization. It’s my perfect right to make a speech about meaningful subject matters in this country.”
He further said that the controversy was a result of Democratic video trackers, playing “gotcha.” “I am not going to be intimidated by a bunch of bullshit,” Raese said.
The two situations, Raese insisted, are analogous.
“It’s government trying to micromanage our business; it’s wrong as can be,” said Raese. “It is a very similar situation. I resent it, and I don’t put it on my particular office building. It might be smoking today, it might be Big Macs tomorrow, then Coca-Colas the next day, then Jack Daniels, then we’re in trouble.”
In a recent speech at the Putnam County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner, Raese said:
I don’t want government telling me what I can do and what I can’t do — because I’m an American. But in Monongalia County, you can’t smoke a cigarette, and you can’t smoke a cigar, you can’t do anything.
And I oppose that, because I believe in everybody’s individual freedoms, and everybody’s individual rights to do what they want to do. And I’m a conservative and that’s the way that goes.
But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say that this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. OK?
Remember, Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing.
Raese is seeking a rematch with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who won a special election in 2010 to replace the late Dem Sen. Robert Byrd. Manchin defeated Raese 54 percent to 43 percent in the middle of the 2010 GOP wave, in a Republican-trending state. Raese has previously run for Senate in 1984, and came close that time around, followed by unsuccessful runs for governor in 1988, Senate in 2006 and again in 2010, making this year’s race his fifth bid for office.