Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign is condemning buttons worn by his own supporters that took aim at his female opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley, that said, “A Woman’s Place Is In The House.” But they didn’t place all the blame on their side, either — they suggested that Berkley’s camp was manufacturing the story.
A local news report on Heller’s July 4 campaign activities that mentioned the buttons was flagged to TPM Thursday by Nevada Democrats:
The race has already been bitter: Berkley and the Democrats have used Heller’s support for the Blunt Amendment and opposition to pay equity legislation to cast the Republican as a leading general in what Democrats have called the call “the war on women.”
Berkley’s campaign has worked hard to rally the female vote, even running its own version of the “a woman’s place is in the House” button. But Berkley’s button is tongue-in-cheek, reading “a woman’s place is in the House … and Senate.” The buttons reported by KSNV didn’t apparently include that last part.
Polls show the race is a close one, and both sides are pushing hard for the advantage.
Republicans seemed sensitive Thursday to the Democratic accusation that Heller is anti-woman. Heller’s campaign forcefully condemned the buttons:
“This is the first that we have heard of this. The Heller for Senate campaign has no such buttons and actually has not purchased any buttons at all. Absolutely no campaign staffer had such a silly button,” Chandler Smith, a Heller spokesperson, told TPM. “Dean Heller is a husband of almost 30 years with two daughters and a granddaughter, which just makes this even more absurd.”
National Republicans smell a rat.
“Watching Berkley operatives pitch stories such as this, which they likely manufactured in the first place, is just another reminder of how low Shelley Berkley’s campaign and her allies will go over the next 124 days,” said Brian Walsh, NRSC spokesperson.
The Berkley campaign declined to provide a statement to TPM.