News & Politics

GOP Candidates Being Schooled on How to Avoid Gaffes When Running Against Women

'Binders of women!' 'Legitimate rape!' War on choice! Good luck guys!

The Republic Party has figured out it has a gender problem. Brilliant. In their zeal to avoid another Todd Akin fiasco—they are taking a small step towards rebranding themselves so as not to come off as waging a war on women.

Politico has reported that The National Republican Congressional Committee has been meeting with met with sitting Republicans' aids to train them on how to improve their “messaging against women opponents.” Todd Akin famously lost his battle to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill when he claimed women's bodies could shut down a pregnancy in instances of "legitimate rape." 

Now, the GOP is focusing on how best to turn the party into a slightly more female-friendly group, considering that women are about half the electorate. Aides have been lectured largely on how to go after a female challenger in a way that is simultaneously aggressive, tactful, and not overwhlemingly sexist. This is hard for them.


According to Politico, 10 male GOP incumbents in the House will face Democratic women challengers in the 2014 midterm elections. And acording to an unnamed Republican staffer, there have been “multiple sessions” with the GOP members because “some of these guys have a lot to learn.” The sessions have come largely from a GOP desire to rebrand the party after both a string of losses in 2012, as well as a general sense that the party is falling behind on the times. 

With high-profile fights set to take place in states like New York, Florida, Virginia and Illinois, the right is sure to feel a supreme pushback, making these behind-the-scenes lessons in manners both hilariously antiquated and potentially necessary.

It seems the Democrats are ready for them. “Our essential strategy is to recruit problem solvers,” Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told Politico, "and with this Republican Congress having been so destructive to the concerns women have, we are putting special emphasis on recruiting women who will end those problems.”

With roughly 50 competitive races in the House currently at play for 2014, the new Republican messaging strategy may prove to be relatively obsolete, proving Rep. Ann Wagner’s reminder that women "decide a lot of things” powerfully true.

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Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.