Vermont Democrats are criticizing the Republican candidate for governor after one of his aides praised Virginia's new law requiring an ultrasound before an abortion as "common sense."
The criticism released on Friday follows two days of debate over state Sen. Randy Brock's decision to host fundraisers with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, both Republicans, as he campaigns for the Vermont governorship. A Brock spokesman defended the Monday fundraiser in Washington with McDonnell, praising the Virginian chair of the Republican Governors Association, including his work on the controversial ultrasound bill.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Brock aide Darcie Johnson called the ultrasound bill a "common-sense pro-life bill that puts Virginia in line with a number of other states," in an email.
Jake Perkinson, chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, released a statement on Friday morning criticizing Johnson's statement about the law. The bill originally contained a requirement for a transvaginal ultrasound for an abortion early in a pregnancy, a requirement that was removed from the bill after McDonnell and Republicans received a barrage of criticism. McDonnell had said at the time that he did not know of the transvaginal requirement.
"The revelation that Randy Brock's campaign views the extreme Virginia ultrasound bill as 'common sense' is stunning," Perkinson said. "This law has gained national notoriety and is championed by the most extreme right-wing elements of the Republican Party. The vast majority of Vermonters support a woman's right to choose, and it is unsettling that Randy Brock is siding on this issue with the ultra-conservative GOP Governor McDonnell -- his host at a Washington D.C. fundraiser next week."
Brock, a former state auditor and West Point board vice chairman, is challenging first term Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, in the November election.
Earlier this week Brock was also criticized for planning to do two days of campaigning with LePage in July in Vermont. LePage, elected in 2010, has undergone criticism for his stance toward unions and his removal of a mural depicting the labor movement from a state office building.
The New England Sun-Journal reported that Brock had said that, if elected in Vermont, he would look toward Maine as an example of health care reform. Perkinson has criticized Brock for embracing LePage, saying in a statement released on Thursday that LePage has cut public services and made "affordable health care even farther out of reach for Mainers."
The Vermont Republican Party's chairman, Jack Lindley, defended the LePage appearance, Vtdigger.org reported.
“The name callers who dwell in the bowels at the Vermont Democratic Party might actually learn something from listening to the words of Governor LePage," Lindley said. "And even if they don’t like his ideas, the least they could do is treat this man with the same civility that our side demonstrated during President Obama’s recent visit to Vermont."