Jul 20, 2018 - Politics & Policy

What they’re saying: Congressman Jason Lewis' 2012 comments on women

Lewis in a 2016 campaign video.

Lewis in a campagin video from his election bid in 2016. Photo: jasonformn.com

CNN has unearthed audio of Minnesota Republican Jason Lewis making misogynistic comments on a radio show he hosted from 2009 to 2014, in which he lamented that men could no longer call women "sluts," and mused about women's inability to make rational voting decisions.

Why it matters: At a time when men in power across all industries are being held accountable for disparaging or disrespecting women, repercussions for Lewis are unclear. He's up for reelection in the fall, and his seat is due to be a close one. He narrowly won the seat in 2016 by two points, and it's currently listed as a "toss up" in November by Real Clear Politics.

The reactions:

  • Lewis said he stands by his statement. Speaking on a local Minnesota radio show, he argued that he "was paid to be provocative ... There's a difference between a politician and a pundit. That's why going back six years, eight years, 10 years, 15 years, misses the point. There's a different role."
  • Democratic candidate Angie Craig, who lost to Lewis in 2016 and is running against him again this fall, tweeted that the quotes are “deeply disappointing.”
  • The DCCC emailed the audio out to its supporters shortly after its release, hoping to incite support for Craig.
  • Emily’s List stated that “time and again, Jason Lewis has shown us just how little he respects or understands women."

Be smart: These comments were circulated and used against Lewis in his initial bid two years ago, but the landscape has changed significantly since then. What happens next could serve as a test of how far-reaching the #MeToo movement may shape out to be, especially for political figures.

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