Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., reportedly mocked the sexual assault allegation dogging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, joking that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently accused Lincoln of groping her.
"Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings?" Norman said during his opening remarks at a debate Thursday against his Democratic challenger, according to The Post and Courier. "Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln."
The congressman made the joke after telling the crowd that he almost had to miss the debate and travel back to Washington to address the accusation.
The off-color remark appeared to poke fun at Ginsburg's age — she is 85 — and the recent sexual assault allegations made against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly tried to force himself on her while they were teenagers in Maryland in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
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The remark elicited "scattered nervous laughter" from the crowd, the paper reported.
Norman is running for re-election against Democrat Archie Parnell, an attorney, to represent the state's 5th Congressional District. Parnell did not immediately address the remark on stage, the paper reported. But he rebuked his opponent in a statement to the paper after the debate.
“My opponent apparently thinks sexual assault is a joke. It is not,” Parnell said. “But I guess that’s the best we can expect from someone who pulled a loaded gun on his own constituents.”
Local South Carolina Democrats also swiftly condemned the remarks.
“Ralph Norman just proved he may be rich but he doesn’t have any class,” Trav Robertson, the state's Democratic Party chairman, said in a Thursday tweet. “Inappropriate doesn’t describe his remarks.”
Jaime Harrison, the associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also condemned the remark.
“So now sexual assault is a punchline for a stupid joke!” Harrison tweeted. “Disgusting but coming from Norman... expected!”
Norman's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.