WASHINGTON — An 18-year-old joke about rape told by 1990 Texas gubernatorial contender Clayton Williams has erupted as an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, causing the man he is supporting for president, Republican John McCain, to scramble Saturday for damage control.
McCain's campaign late Friday said it had pulled the plug on a fundraising event scheduled for Monday at Williams' Midland home after reporters contacted the campaign asking about remarks made by the Texas Republican during his 1990 race against Democrat Ann Richards.
But Saturday afternoon, the McCain campaign told the Houston Chronicle that the Midland event had been postponed until this summer and would be held in a public venue.
Like a rainy day
McCain campaign officials changed plans after being contacted by reporters calling attention to Williams' comment 18 years ago seeming to liken bad weather to rape.
"As long as it's inevitable," Williams was reported as saying, "you might as well lie back and enjoy it."
Williams, 76, has made and lost fortunes in energy, ranching and other businesses over the past half-century, but is perhaps best known for his 1990 Republican race for governor. The Midland oilman's controversial campaign comments are widely known in Texas, but McCain aides told reporters they were surprised when they learned of them.
"These were obviously incredibly offensive remarks that the campaign was unaware of at the time this event was scheduled," said spokesman Brian Rogers. "It's positive that he did apologize at the time, but the comments are nonetheless offensive."
A representative for Williams declined to comment.
Starting with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers for Barack Obama and then Pastor John Hagee and now Clayton Williams for John McCain, there has been way too much fuss over the people a candidate might know than the actual candidate themselves. There was some legitimacy to concerns over Wright's influence on Obama, since the senator had named a book after a quote from him and went to his church for two decades, but with Ayers, Hagee and now Williams it has quickly devolved into a tornado of media rumor-mongering. Are we going to get to the point where we start looking at what Obama did in elementary school? Oh, wait, we already have....