John Koster, Republican nominee in Washington’s First Congressional District, was captured on tape over the weekend explaining why he is opposed to abortion in the case of incest and rape. Incest he said, was “so rare.” Then he turned to rape.
“On the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” Koster said. “You know what I mean?”
It was the second time Koster tried to explain “the rape thing.” Democrats are balking at the language and calling it offensive.
Here’s audio of Koster, posted Wednesday by The Stranger:
The audio was recorded at a fundraising event over the weekend in Everett, Wash. The Seattle Times reported the liberal group behind the clip “secretly audio-taped Koster” at the fundraiser.
Koster is a Snohomish County commissioner and a longtime opponent of abortion rights. He has the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, which praised him earlier this month for his work “sponsoring pro-life initiatives” while a member of the Washington State legislature. He’s opposed to abortion rights, except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered by a pregnancy.
Koster is running against Democrat Suzan DelBene, a former director of the Washington Department of Revenue, who supports abortion rights. Her campaign called Koster’s “rape thing” formulation offensive.
“Dismissing it as a ‘thing’ is an awfully casual way for him to talk about it, and I think it highlights how little he understands the ramifications and the seriousness of the issue. So that’s very problematic,” DelBene spokesperson Viet Shelton told TPM. “And the way he approaches the issue and the policy conclusions he comes to, it just highlights the serious problem we have when politicians are trying to dictate women’s health care decisions.”
In a statement, Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney, told TPM that the audio tape was selectively edited. But he said Koster stood by the comments.
“I reviewed the video with John, who tells me that the conversation was not played in its entirety. Still, we do not believe John’s attitude to be the least bit ‘casual’ regarding his comments,” Stickney said. “Consider that John was at a dinner with many people trying to get his attention, yet his words were still thoughtful and heartfelt. He very clearly and honestly stated his thoughts on an extremely sensitive subject. He has nothing to be ashamed of here.”
Koster is the latest Republican to give his opponents an in with comments about rape and abortion. Rep. Todd Akin arguably blew open the Missouri Senate race with his “legitimate rape” comments, and Democratic polling shows Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock is risking defeat in his Senate race thanks to his words about rape, conception and God’s will.
This post has been updated.