Republican Senate candidate and former Gov. Tommy Thompson became the latest to join the chorus on Thursday, putting out a statement saying he was "offended" by what the state lawmaker said.
"As a husband, a father of two daughters and the grandfather of six beautiful granddaughters, I am offended by state Representative Rivard's indefensible remarks," Thompson said. "We must take instances of rape and sexual assault seriously and hold the perpetrators accountable to the utmost degree."
Rivard actually made his controversial remark -- which he said was advice shared with him by his father -- in December, when he talked to The Chetek Alert newspaper about the case of a 17-year-old high school student who was charged with sexual assault after having sex with an underage girl in the band room. The interview came to wider public notice after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on it on Wednesday.
Rivard told the Journal-Sentinel that his comments were "taken out of context," saying his father meant to convey that if "you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry."
"Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she's not going to say, 'Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.' All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she's underage. And he just said, 'Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,' he said, 'they rape so easy,'" Rivard said.
Rivard is a freshman lawmaker and is stuck in a tight race for reelection against Democrat Stephen Smith.
Thompson had not endorsed Rivard -- but Gov. Scott Walker (R) and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had. Both men withdrew their endorsements on Thursday, and state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) -- who is leading the effort to maintain a Republican majority in the Wisconsin Assembly -- also pulled his support.
It's the second time in recent months that Ryan has had to distance himself from a fellow Republican making insensitive comments about rape. In August, after Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said women can't get pregnant after a "legitimate rape," both Ryan and Mitt Romney -- as well as much of the GOP establishment -- called on him to withdraw his bid for U.S. Senate. Since that time, Romney and Ryan have maintained their distance, but other members of the party have jumped back in to help Akin defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) said he plans to donate the amount Rivard had given to his 2010 and 2012 congressional campaigns -- $500 -- to the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse in Superior, Wis.
Rivard has said he "very much" regrets sharing his father's advice. He will be participating in a candidates' forum sponsored by a group of women educators on Oct. 16.
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