South Carolina GOP Rep. Ralph Norman opened an election debate Thursday by cracking a joke that attempted to play off the controversy over the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
It did not go over well, according to a report from The Post and Courier.
Norman, appearing alongside his Democratic opponent Archie Parnell — who is under fire after 1973 divorce records revealed he allegedly violently beat his then-wife — opened the debate by joking he almost had to miss the event to head back to Washington to address the latest drama involving the Supreme Court.
“Did you hear about this?” Norman said. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
Watch: Ralph Norman Makes a Joke About Ruth Bader Ginsburg Being ‘Groped’ by Abraham Lincoln
The remark elicited some scattered nervous laughter from the crowd at the Kiwanis Club of Rock Hill, according to The Post and Courier.
Parnell reportedly did not address the joke during the debate — possibly because it could raise the issue involving his ex-wife — but provided a statement to The Post and Courier afterward slamming Norman.
“My opponent apparently thinks sexual assault is a joke. It is not,” Parnell said. “But I guess that’s the best we can expect from someone who pulled a loaded gun on his own constituents.”
Norman, a House Freedom Caucus member removed his handgun from his blazer jacket and placed it on the table at a “coffee with constituents” event in April.
He defended the criticism of that action at the time by saying he wanted to show constituents wearing red shirts for the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America so that they would see that the gun “doesn’t shoot by itself” and “it takes a person behind it.”
Norman’s joke about Ginsburg and Lincoln comes as the largely partisan debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has grown increasingly contentious amid allegations that he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford when they were both in high school.
“Ralph Norman just proved he may be rich but he doesn’t have any class,” South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson tweeted. “Inappropriate doesn’t describe his remarks.”
Norman serves in the House, which does not vote on Supreme Court nominations. He won his seat in a June 2017 special election against Parnell.
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