WASHINGTON -- Prominent Republicans in Wisconsin quickly dropped their support for state Rep. Roger Rivard (R-River Lake) after he told a newspaper that "[s]ome girls rape easy." But much like after Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made his controversial comments about "legitimate rape" and lost the backing of the GOP establishment, social conservatives and at least one "family values" group are rushing in to help.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Family Action PAC -- which bills itself as committed to "strengthening and preserving marriage, family, life and liberty" -- endorsed Rivard.
"We are very pleased to endorse candidates who recognize the importance of America's and Wisconsin's best natural resource -- her traditional families -- and who realize that our state's and our country's well-being is closely tied to the strength of this resource. These are candidates who will, in both policy and practice, work to help ensure that our families become or remain independent of government," said WFA PAC director Julaine Appling in a statement.
Appling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that WFA PAC endorsed Rivard because of his stance on issues, but she declined to comment on his rape remark.
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 Journal-Sentinel reported on it last week.
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.
The district attorney involved in the case recently said that there was nothing consensual about the incident; rather, that it was "a sex act perpetrated by force against the will of the victim."
Rivard is a freshman lawmaker and is stuck in a tight race for reelection against Democrat Stephen Smith.
He has since lost the backing of Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The pattern of what Rivard is going through is similar to what Akin experienced in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, after he said that women are physically able to stop themselves from being pregnant if they are victims of a "legitimate rape." The GOP establishment -- including the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS -- pulled their financial support from Akin, and many Republicans called for him to bow out. Social conservatives, however, stuck by his side and have remained committed to helping him defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-Mo.).
Since then, the GOP establishment has slowly begun moving back into the race, with former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, as well as the National Federation of Independent Business, all endorsing Akin.