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Michigan GOP candidate under fire for rape analogy, telling his daughters to 'lie back and enjoy it' 

Robert Regan, running for a state House seat, compared giving up on overturning Donald Trump's loss in 2020 to what his daughters should do if they were sexually assaulted.
Robert Regan, center, welcomes a friend to his election watch party on Aug. 7, 2018, in Belmont, Mich.
Robert Regan, center, welcomes a friend to his election watch party in Belmont, Mich., on Aug. 7, 2018.Alyssa Keown / The Grand Rapids Press via AP file

Both parties condemned a Republican candidate for a seat in Michigan's House of Representatives after he made an analogy about the 2020 presidential election’s involving rape and his daughters.

Robert Regan, a favorite to win Michigan's District 74 seat, made the comment at a livestreamed panel Sunday in response to an assertion that it was "too late" to overturn the election results.

"That's kind of like having three daughters. I tell my daughters if rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it," Regan said. "That's not how we roll. That's not how we won this election."

Video of the panel, hosted by the Rescue Michigan Coalition, remained available on the group’s Facebook page Wednesday.

He went on to compare his win in the Republican primary with the biblical tale of David and Goliath, noting that his opponents had more financial support.

Amber Harris, a Republican activist and fellow panelist, told Regan during the stream that his analogy was a "shameful comment."

"Advice to your daughters: Don't do that," Harris said. "Fight all the time."

The Michigan Freedom Fund, a nonprofit conservative organization, released a statement calling Regan's remarks "despicable & disqualifying."

"I’m the mom of four young girls. Every day I teach them to stand up for themselves, to know what they’re worth, and to fight back against creeps like Regan," Executive Director Tori Sachs said. "RJ Regan doesn’t belong anywhere near the state Capitol and that is why we endorsed and supported his opponent.”

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser and Kent GOP Chairman Rob VerHeulen addressed "comments" made by Regan in a joint statement Tuesday but didn't specify the exact remarks.

"Mr. Regan’s history of foolish, egregious and offensive comments, including his most recent one are simply beyond the pale,” Weiser said. “We are better than this as a party and I absolutely expect better than this of our candidates.”

The chair of the Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus, state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, a Democrat representing District 19, condemned Regan’s remarks Monday on Twitter.

“Having been in a situation where rape was inevitable, I can promise this man that there is nothing enjoyable about it,” Pohutsky said. “This man is disgusting and I’m hoping HD 74 doesn’t send him to Lansing. I don’t normally say this about people I could end up working with, but he’s horrid.”

Regan called the backlash against him "villainous attacks" against his reputation in an emailed statement to NBC News on Wednesday. He said his comment had been "truncated" and taken out of context.

"In retrospect, knowing now how vicious my attackers could be, I regret using an analogy that could so easily have been taken out of context," Regan said. "My point was simply this: when there are alleged improprieties, even if the outcome seems inevitable, we must fight back and investigate so that justice can be served, and our votes are not diluted."

He pushed back against the statement released by Weiser and VerHeulen, saying neither man contacted him to get clarification about his remark.

"Now I understand how President Trump felt when he discovered his biggest enemies were in his own political party; and I am not even a Trump endorsed candidate," Regan said in the statement. 

Regan told MLive on Monday that he doesn't want to equate a "stolen election" with rape and that his point was more about fighting back, "because nobody likes to be taken advantage of."

“I’m getting pushback right now because I’m the only one saying we need to decertify the 2020 election. Everyone on that panel said it’s inevitable, let it die, it’s a dead issue, focus on 2022 moving forward,” Regan said. “And I’m like, ‘No, it’s not inevitable. You would never tell a daughter if it’s inevitable you should lie back and enjoy it, ever.’ That’s the context of that story.”

Donald Trump has falsely blamed his loss to President Joe Biden on voter fraud even though there is no evidence to support such allegations. Former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, told The Associated Press in December 2020 that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud.