CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman started an election debate Thursday with a sexual assault joke about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I though I was going to be late. Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news on the Kavanaugh hearings?” said Norman. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
Norman’s comments were made at a high noon debate between with Archie Parnell for the SC Fifth Congressional District at the Kiwanis Club of Rock Hill.
Shortly after the debate Parnell released a statement on Norman’s remark.
“My opponent apparently thinks sexual assault is a joke. It is not. But I guess that’s the best we can expect from someone who pulled a loaded gun on his own constituents.”
Rep. Norman’s joke coincides with the scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointment nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. A woman accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when he was a teenager. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.
Since the debate, the social media backlash against Norman has been steady.
Associate chair of the Democratic National Committee, Jaime Harrison, called the joke “disgusting” but “expected.”
The South Carolina Democratic Party followed suit, asking “what sexist is writing your jokes, Ralph Norman?”
The Kiwanis club also sent out a statement on Norman’s comment.
In a tweet the club said their organization and clubs “exist to help children. One way to help is to understand candidates’ positions on relevant issues; many Kiwanis clubs hold open forums like this for political candidates. Statements such as the one from Rep. Ralph Norman do not reflect The Objects of Kiwanis.”
The Kiwanis Club released an additional statement Friday morning:
“The club was disappointed with Rep. Norman’s joke about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, alleging she had been groped by Abraham Lincoln. The joke was not funny, it was in poor taste, and it absolutely does not reflect the values of our club. Video and audio recordings of the debate clearly demonstrate that a very small minority of the audience laughed or clapped at his joke. The audience included club members and their guests, as well as a number of guests invited directly by the two campaigns.”
Norman responded on Twitter Thursday evening, saying his comments were meant to “add a bit of levity to a very serious debate.”
Norman also tweeted in response to a tweet from Parnell, who brought up a situation where Norman pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents in Rock Hill.