After blogger Mike Tipping publicized numerous remarks of GOP Rep. Lawrence Lockman, portions of what the state legislator said went viral.
Interestingly, his comments on gay people didn’t get picked up much (although, as I wrote, they demonstrate a tension within his party on LGBT right issues).
Nor did Lockman’s history of refusing to pay federal taxes and his view that they are unconstitutional.
Instead, what went viral was Lockman’s comment on abortion and rape:
If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.
So, why this comment and not the others?
This comment got so much attention because it fits within a theme, that some Republicans are engaged in a “war on women.”
That theme was given currency due to actions by some Republican legislators, by Rush Limbaugh’s remarks on Sandra Fluke’s testimony on birth control coverage, and by some remarks by certain Republican candidates.
These two comments received considerable attention in 2012:
I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
-Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, October 2012
It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.
-Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, August 2012
In fact, a number of commentators say that those remarks made a difference in Democratic candidates winning those races.
But it wasn’t just voters in Indiana and Missouri who saw what Mourdock and Akin said and who reacted to them.
Indeed, those sorts of statements can matter in other races, affecting how people see the political parties, and influencing campaign contributions, volunteering, turnout and vote choice.
And so, despite Lockman being a freshman state legislator in Maine, his remark on abortion and rape may stay in the national spotlight.