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Mich. GOP governor candidate said rape victims shouldn’t have abortions: ‘Baby inside them may be the next president’

Garrett Soldano, left, speaks to anti-covid lockdown supporters in Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 2, 2020. (Rod Sanford/Detroit News/AP)
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When Garrett Soldano was asked on a right-wing podcast how he would “ensure the sanctity of life” in Michigan, the Republican candidate for governor said he would stop at nothing to protect a fetus.

Even in cases where victims of rape become pregnant, Soldano said, “we’re always going to fight for life.”

“They don’t know that little baby inside them may be the next president, may be the next person who changes humanity,” Soldano said on the “Face the Facts” podcast.

A video of the Jan. 19 episode, posted on Twitter by Heartland Signal, a liberal news site focused on Midwest politics, went viral Monday. As of early Tuesday, it had racked up over 460,000 views.

Many politicians and activists who support abortion rights condemned Soldano’s comments. State Sen. Erika Geiss (D) called his remarks “disgusting.”

“We should be inspiring women who’ve been raped to press charges [and] we should have a system that takes them seriously,” Geiss tweeted. “We should have a world where men don’t think they’re entitled to women’s bodies.”

Soldano is not the first political candidate to take heat after giving an interview about abortion rights. In 2012, during his campaign for U.S. Senate, former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said in an interview that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. He added that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin, who died in October, apologized for his comments but later said he regretted doing so. In 2019, when then-Florida House Speaker José Oliva (R) apologized for referring to pregnant women as “host bodies” several times during a TV news interview about an antiabortion bill.

Soldano, a chiropractor from southwest Michigan, has never run for political office and is considered an underdog in the Republican primary race, according to the Detroit News. But the paper reported in November that Soldano had the second-highest fundraising numbers of the 11 candidates.

The gubernatorial hopeful has been known for his controversial stances. In September, he was permanently banned from YouTube for “severe or repeated violations” of the site’s guidelines. Some of his videos included false information about masks and the coronavirus vaccine, the Detroit News reported. Soldano also opposed Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders during the pandemic and led an effort to strip her of her emergency powers to enforce covid safety restrictions.

Soldano’s podcast interview was with April Moss, a former weather reporter at a CBS affiliate station in Detroit who resigned on air. Moss said she was exposing the network’s “discrimination” in an interview with Project Veritas, an organization known for using undercover tactics to expose what it says is liberal bias in the mainstream news media.

During the 32-minute episode, Moss asked Soldano whether he planned to implement something like Texas’s abortion law, which bans termination after six weeks of pregnancy, if elected to governor.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens,” he said, explaining that he believes life starts “when DNA is created.”

“We must defend life in all instances,” he added.

Soldano went on to say that society should encourage those who are pregnant — even those who are sexually assaulted — to deliver their babies.

“How about we start inspiring women in the culture to let them understand and know how heroic they are and how unbelievable they are that God put them in this moment,” he said.

In response to the video, Ron Owens, Whitmer’s political director, called Soldano’s words “dangerous.”

“Unfortunately, he’s not the only one with extreme views like this — every candidate in the GOP primary has said they will undermine a woman’s right to choose,” Owens wrote.

Actor and activist Patricia Arquette tweeted that rape victims should be able to decide whether they want an abortion.

“The state should not compel victims of sexual violence to endure further pain and suffering,” she wrote.