Senate Candidate Belittles His Opponent As Just A Young Woman Who Has No Life Experience

CREDIT: Scott Keyes

Matt Bevin campaigning in Lexington.

MADISONVILLE, Kentucky — Senate candidate Matt Bevin doesn’t think much of his potential Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. Dismissing her professed support of a minimum wage hike, her choice to make Medicare a central part of her campaign, or her background as a lawyer for domestic abuse victims, Bevin is now claiming Grimes has nothing to run on besides the fact that she is a young woman.

Bevin, the Tea Party Senate candidate putting a scare in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ahead of the May 20 primary, campaigned this week in western and central Kentucky. During a stop in Madisonville, Bevin argued that Grimes just runs on four things: “She’s young, she’s new, is a woman, and she’s not Mitch McConnell.”

“She’s a nice enough person,” he said, but when it comes to issues, vision, or life experience, “she really has none of the above on any of those fronts.”

Bevin also argued that it was “insulting” that Grimes, who has served as Kentucky’s Secretary of State since 2012, would expect that women would vote for her simply based on her gender.

BEVIN: She runs on four things. She runs on some variation of: she’s young, she’s new, is a woman, and she’s not Mitch McConnell. That’s essentially what she’s got, in some form or fashion. And all those are true enough, and all of those, while they’re not substantive, they’re good enough to beat Mitch McConnell. […] The reality is I negate her only competitive advantages. She’s then forced to run against me by talking about issues, by talking about vision, by talking about life experience. And she really has none of the above on any of those fronts. She’s a nice enough person, I’ve met her on several occasions on the campaign trail, seems nice enough, but completely devoid of what it takes for us.

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Bevin repeated this attack during a stop in Lexington on Tuesday, arguing that Grimes is simply running as a new, young woman and saying that she is “so remarkably devoid of life experience.” The attack echoes Republican strategist Brad Dayspring, who called Grimes an “empty dress” who is “incapable of articulating her own thoughts” last year.

Female candidates often face sexist attacks, ranging from blatant name-calling to subtly undermining comments. Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D) has been called an “Abortion Barbie” who manipulated her husband into paying for her tuition. Former Congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch was also reduced to her gender by her opponents, who called her “not a bad-looking lady.” Yet another Republican candidate, Ken Buck, asked voters to choose him over his opponent, Jane Norton, because he “[does] not wear high heels.” Research shows that simply referring to a female candidate’s appearance hurts their chances at winning.

Republicans have struggled to win over female voters, even training GOP candidates on how to talk about female candidates without being offensive.