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Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman criticized for joke about Ruth Bader Ginsburg getting groped by Abe Lincoln

Comment sets off a Twitter tit-for-tat with Norman’s Democratic opponent, Archie Parnell

♦By Rich Shumate,

ROCK HILL, South Carolina (CFP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman’s attempt to riff off of the current controversy over allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh is causing a fresh round of criticism in a race in which treatment of women has taken center stage.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina

Norman, addressing the crowd at the beginning at a September 20 debate for 5th District candidates in Rock Hill, said, “Did y’all hear the latest, late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings? Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”

The joke echoes a meme ricocheting around the internet in which Ginsburg, 85, is shown alleging that she was groped by Lincoln in 1862.

The crowd laughed. While Norman’s Democratic opponent, Archie Parnell, did not address the remark at the time, he later blasted Norman on Twitter: “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.”

The latter comment was a reference to an incident in April in which Norman pulled out a loaded gun during a meeting with gun control opponents at a local diner, less than two months after the massacre of students at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Norman defended his actions, saying he was “tired of guns being demonized.”

Norman responded in kind: “Perhaps we should have a debate about your own abuse and harassment of women, Parnell.”

Archie Parnell, D-Congressional candidate

Parnell’s campaign was rocked in May after divorce records revealed that he had been accused of domestic violence against his then-wife in the 1970s. He admitted that he had been “violent” but insisted that he had changed in the intervening years.

Democratic leaders had called on Parnell to quit the race, but he refused and won the Democratic primary in June.

The 5th District has historically been solidly Republican. However, Parnell came within 2 points of beating Norman in a 2017 special election to fill the seat, which became vacant when Mick Mulvaney was picked as President Donald Trump’s budget director.

Given the closeness of the special election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had added the seat to its 2018 target list but later dumped Parnell after the abuse revelations surfaced.

The 5th District includes a stretch of upstate South Carolina from near Columbia to the Charlotte suburbs.

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