ABC's Rick Klein reports: Sen. John McCain on Friday abruptly cancelled a Monday fundraiser that had been scheduled at the home of a Texas oilman, after ABC News contacted the campaign inquiring about a verbal blunder the Texan made during an unsuccessful 1990 campaign for governor.
Clayton Williams stirred controversy during his 1990 campaign for governor of Texas with a botched attempt at humor in which he compared rape to weather. Within earshot of a reporter, Williams said: “As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
His Democratic opponent at the time, the late Ann Richards -- who, coincidentally, would lose the governor’s mansion to George W. Bush in 1994 -- highlighted the comments in a TV ad during that 1990 campaign. View the ad HERE.
McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said the Monday event was being cancelled, given the offensive comments. He said he could not yet say what McCain would do with donations brought into the campaign by Williams.
"These were obviously incredibly offensive remarks that the campaign was unaware of at the time this event was scheduled," Rogers said. He added that Williams apologized for the comments back in 1990, but he said that does not excuse them.
Williams told the Midland Reporter-Telegram recently that he had already raised more than $300,000 for McCain and the fundraiser to be held at his home in Midland. Williams said that he needed to help McCain raise money to stop an Obama campaign that would enact “socialist” policies if elected to office.
“Much of the media, particularly the TV media, are to the left,” Williams told the newspaper. “To combat that we must have money to put our case to the people. We are way behind on [fundraising]. If Obama wins, it could move our country to the left, from which we will not recover.”
The DNC is calling on the McCain campaign to return money raised by Williams.
Statement from DNC communications director Karen Finney:
"Mr. Williams' comments are not only outrageous and disgusting, they degrade our values as Americans. John McCain should make it clear that he understands just how offensive these comments are by not only canceling a fund-raising event but also returning the money Wlliams raised for his campaign. Senator McCain should know that you cannot expect the American people to trust you if you say one thing when you stand on the stump and turn a blind eye to this kind of language when you think no one will notice."