ATLANTA - Georgians wondering how Sen. Saxby Chambliss suddenly became national news for an aside in a Senate hearing can find clues in a report issued by the College Republicans.
He could argue the attack is unfair. Chambliss, R-Ga., is cosponsoring two bills to strengthen the prosecution of sexual assault in the military. He agrees with Democratic colleagues that commanders should not have the power to overturn a rape reconviction.
When it was his allotted time in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to question the chiefs of the military branches last week, Chambliss lectured them about the need to reduce assaults.
“There’s also got to be some kind of fear put into these young people that come to every branch of our service the very first day that they raise their hand and swear to defend the Constitution,” he said. “The fear has got to be that that chain of command that we allude to really is serious about making sure that these types of sexual assaults do not occur.”
He created the ruckus with an aside about those young people.
“The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23,” he said. “Gee whiz, that’s – the level of – the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.”
So, when Chambliss tripped over his own tongue, Democrats quickly jumped on him.
Democrats instantly lumped it in with a comment by conservative commentator Erick Erickson, of Macon, who said on CNN “the natural world order” gave males the “dominant role” as breadwinners and women a “complimentary role.”
Not only did Democrats call on the senator to apologize and resign, but they also bullied GOP candidates seeking to succeed the retiring Chambliss to put them on the defensive.
“Republican leader’s extreme, anti-women comments are despicable and offensive to women in Georgia and across the country. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Karen Handel, and David Perdue must immediately condemn Saxby Chambliss and Erick Erickson’s comments,” said Regan Page, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokeswoman.
Broun, Gingrey and Kingston are Georgia GOP congressmen. Handel is a former Georgia secretary of state, and are all declared candidates. Perdue is a businessman and political newcomer who is exploring his own run for next year’s Senate rate.
A day earlier, the College Republicans National Committee issued a report saying the GOP needs to stop coming across as closed-minded and mean.
After last year’s election, the College Republicans conducted a series of focus-group discussions and surveys and concluded that 18-30-year-old voters see the GOP in a negative light. When asked which attributes least described the Republicans, the terms used most often were open-minded, tolerant, caring and cooperative. Those surveyed painted the Democratic Party as as being open-minded, tolerant and intelligent.
“With a list of attributes like that, who would want to buy the product the GOP is selling?” the authors of the CR report wrote.
The tactics of the national Democrats show they understand that.
(Walter Jones is the Atlanta bureau chief for Morris News Service. Follow him on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and (404) 589-8424.)