When Republican politicians run for office in the Pacific Northwest, they often try to play up their moderate stances, avoid mentioning party affiliations, sometimes even replicate Democratic commercials in an attempt to lure voters into believing they aren’t that much different from the progressive candidates that often get elected.
It’s no wonder they can get vicious when someone tries to ask them about their real positions.
State Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican candidate for Governor, reminded the people of Washington of that fact as he recently berates a young woman asking him about how he would vote on the Reproductive Parity Act, a bill that would expand insurance coverage for abortions in the state insurance plan as long as the plan covers maternity care as well. If it had passed, it would allow low income and uninsured women the ability to control their own reproductive choices rather than be forced into paying abortion costs out of pocket or continuing an unwanted pregnancy due to lack of funds.
The bill died in the state legislature, but many reproductive rights advocates hope it can be returned at some point, allowing all women, not just those who are higher income, to have the ability to make the same reproductive choices.
McKenna, if elected, would be able to veto a bill, so its only fair to ask him where he stands on the issue. But apparently asking about policy is “bushwacking” a politician, and makes them lash out.
Woman: “Mr. Mckenna.”
Woman: “What’s your stance on the Reproductive Parity Act?”
McKenna: “My stance is I’m a lawyer for the State. You can turn that recorder off if you’d like, instead of trying to bushwhack me. It’s not really very polite is it? Do you think you’re honest?”
Woman: “I’m just wondering…”
McKenna: “Do you think you’re being honest?”
McKenna: “Are you being honest? Or are you just not going to answer my question?”
Woman: “I’m a youth worker who’s wondering…”
McKenna: “You’re not being honest. Forget it.”
McKenna: “You’re just trying to gain a political advantage, sorry. Why don’t you go get a job?”
Actually, the woman in question does have a job — she runs “youth empowerment” programs at the YMCA. And as a woman, she’s likely to be concerned how candidates who want to run the state feel about her right to bodily autonomy.
But even if she weren’t employed, dismissing a potential constituent in such a way, especially when you belong to a party that enacts policies that have lead to a 25 percent unemployment rate for young adults, is not the wisest of political moves. Especially not when, as you’ve already noted, that constituent has a camera.
Candidates instictively react as though those who ask them questions on camera are trying to make them look bad. But how is asking a policy question making a candidate “look bad” unless he knows his answer isn’t a good one? If McKenna thought that snapping “get a job” would make him look better than his actual answer would, what does that say about his positions on the issues?
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