Madison - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has dropped his endorsement of a Wisconsin lawmaker who said that his father had told him "some girls, they rape so easy" as a way to warn him that women could consent to sex but then later claim they hadn't.
Gov. Scott Walker condemned the comments by state Rep. Roger Rivard of Rice Lake as "indefensible," though the governor's statement stopped short of withdrawing his endorsement. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and groups that have backed Rivard have not yet responded to inquiries about whether they are standing by their endorsements.
It is the second time Ryan, a Janesville congressman, has withdrawn his support from a fellow Republican when they made comments about rape. In August, Ryan, Walker and other Republicans unsuccessfully urged U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri to drop out of his U.S. Senate race when he said women's bodies can "shut down" to prevent pregnancies in instances of "legitimate rape."
The latest flap surfaced Wednesday, when Rivard told the Journal Sentinel that comments he made in December to the Chetek Alert newspaper about his father's advice had been taken out of context.
"What the whole genesis of it was, it was advice to me, telling me, 'If you're going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.' So the way he said it was, 'Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning,'" Rivard told the Journal Sentinel.
Ryan had endorsed Rivard earlier this year, but he has now withdrawn his support, according to Kevin Seifert, the campaign manager for Ryan's congressional campaign.
"State Representative Rivard's comments are outrageous and offensive," Seifert said in a statement. "Congressman Ryan believes there is no place in our discourse for rhetoric such as this. Congressman Ryan cannot support Mr. Rivard or his indefensible comments."
The flare-up comes as Ryan prepares for Thursday night's debate with Vice President Joe Biden.
Walker, who hosted a Sept. 17 fundraiser for Walker, issued a statement Thursday that criticized Rivard's comments but did not revoke his endorsement of him.
"State Representative Rivard's comments were offensive and disrespectful to victims of rape," Walker's statement said. "The voters of the 75th Assembly District will determine whether he has fully accounted for these indefensible comments."
Democrats have seized on Rivard's comments and used them to highlight cuts Republicans made to women's health care and changes they made to state law to allow schools to teach abstinence-only education and eliminate the ability of victims of sex and age discrimination in the workplace from suing for punitive damages in state court.
Rivard "has demeaned women and shown the extreme philosophies toward women that have taken deep root in the Wisconsin Republican Party," said a statement from Maggie Brickerman, executive director of the state Democratic Party.
Rivard has also received the endorsementsof the Tavern League of Wisconsin, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business-Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin. Like Johnson, those groups have not yet responded publicly to Rivard's comments.
Rivard faces Democrat Stephen Smith in the Nov. 6 election.