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McCain scraps oilman's event

The host stirred a political scandal in 1990 with a rape joke.

June 15, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — After questions from the media, Republican John McCain canceled a fundraiser at the home of a Texas oilman who once joked that women "might as well lie back and enjoy" being raped.

Republican Clayton "Claytie" Williams made the joke during his failed 1990 campaign for governor of Texas against Democrat Ann Richards. He compared rape to the weather, saying, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." He also compared Richards to the cattle on his ranch, saying he would "head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt."

Williams' comments made national news at the time and remain easy to find on the Internet. McCain's campaign said it hadn't known about the remarks.

"These were obviously incredibly offensive remarks that the campaign was unaware of at the time it was scheduled," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. "It's positive that he did apologize at the time, but the comments are nonetheless offensive."

Richards defeated Williams to serve one term as Texas governor; she lost in 1994 to George W. Bush. Richards died in 2006 after a battle with esophageal cancer.

The Washington Post said the campaign, when initially contacted by the Post and ABC News, questioned whether the story was newsworthy. Later in the day the campaign canceled the fundraiser, which had been scheduled for Monday.

The McCain campaign said it would not return money Williams had raised for McCain because the contributions came from other individuals supporting McCain and not from Williams.

Democrats said McCain should give back the money. "Sen. McCain's claim of ignorance is no excuse for refusing to do the right thing now. Offensive, disgusting comments like these cannot be tolerated," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney.

The flap comes as McCain's campaign reaches out to women and to backers of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. McCain has begun a women- focused effort in recent days.

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