Politics & Government

NC lawmaker calls Republican women ‘eye candy’ during press event

Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee speaks to reporters at a Republican Study Committee press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., is standing behind her wearing a purple tie.
Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee speaks to reporters at a Republican Study Committee press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., is standing behind her wearing a purple tie. Lesley Clark

Rep. Mark Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, referred to Republican women as “eye candy” during a press conference Tuesday outside of the Capitol.

While lamenting the lack of progress on important issues like tax reform, health care and border security made by the Republicans in government, Walker said it was incumbent on the RSC to do more.

“We must become more vocal and visible. The accomplished men and women of the RSC and women — if it wasn’t sexist, I would say the RSC eye candy; we’ll leave that out of the record — are not attention-seekers. In fact many of them prefer to work behind the scenes in the process of what we call effective conservatism. However, we have no other alternatives to move in a more pro-active manner,” Walker said.

Walker’s comment came before television cameras and dozens of assembled media.

The RSC is the largest caucus in the House and includes 157 members and 17 of 20 committee chairmen. The group includes Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mia Love of Utah. The women were near Walker when he made his comments.

Walker apologized later in the day.

"During a press event today, I made a flippant remark meant to be light-hearted, but fell short. I'm proud of the women who serve in Congress, and in the leadership of the Republican Study Committee,” Walker said.

Walker represents North Carolina’s 6th District, which includes Greensboro. He was a Baptist pastor for nearly two decades before winning his seat in 2014. Walker easily won re-election in 2016.

Opponents quickly jumped on the comment.

Democrat Ryan Watts, who is running in the 6th District in 2018, sent out a fund-raising email with Walker’s comments Tuesday afternoon.

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