Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), a second-term Congresswoman and chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, participated in a Friday panel on women and the Republican Party. According to a report from Washington Examiner reporter Ashe Schow, she suggested that the best way for the party to appeal to women is to talk down to them.
The article quotes Ellmers, who prior to her 2010 election to Congress worked as a registered nurse and as clinical director of a North Carolina wound care center, as saying:
ELLMERS: Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level… Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that. …
We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.
It also quotes her as saying that what women most want is more time, including “more time in the morning to get ready.”
In a statement e-mailed to ThinkProgress, Ellmers said her comments had been “taken completely out of context” in the Examiner story. “I am a woman, and find it both offensive and sexist to take my words and redefine them to imply that women need to be addressed at a lower level,” she wrote, blaming “certain leftist writers” for engaging in “’gotcha’ journalism.’
The Republican Party has made outreach to women a priority following a historic gender gap in the 2012 elections. The party’s official post-election autopsy noted that that “when developing our Party’s message, women need to be part of this process to represent some of the unique concerns that female voters may have,” and recommended that GOP candidates, spokespeople and staff “use language that addresses concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them.” The House Republican conference’s campaign arm even hosted tutorials for staffers of men up for election next year on how not to offend women.
Ellmers was one of 138 representatives (all Republicans) who voted against the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. She is staunchly opposed to abortion rights and is a current co-sponsor of the proposed Sanctity of Human Rights Act, a proposal to grant “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood” to fetuses, from the time of fertilization.
The Washington Examiner published Ellmers’ full remarks and audio recording on Tuesday.