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Michigan GOP candidate says he tells daughters to ‘lie back and enjoy it’ if rape is inevitable

Robert Regan, a Republican favored to win a seat in the Michigan House, made the comments while trying to make an analogy about abandoning efforts to decertify the 2020 election

A car participates in the “Freedom Convoy” protesting pandemic restrictions and demanding election audits Feb. 20 in Lansing, Mich. (Emily Elconin/Getty Images)
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A previous version of this story said Regan's three daughters encouraged voters to oppose him in the 2020 election. Only one daughter did so. The story has been updated.

A Republican candidate favored to win a seat in the Michigan House said he tells his daughters to “just lie back and enjoy it” if raped, as he attempted to make an analogy about abandoning efforts to decertify the results of the 2020 election.

Robert Regan, who is running to represent Michigan’s District 74 in the state legislature, made the comments during a Facebook live stream Sunday. The discussion was hosted by the Rescue Michigan Coalition, a conservative group that supports former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The Justice Department found no evidence to support Trump’s baseless allegations.

During the discussion, fellow panelist Amber Harris, a Republican strategist, told the group that it is “too late” to continue challenging the results of the 2020 election, suggesting Republicans should instead move on and focus on future races, to which Regan replied: “I tell my daughters, ‘Well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.’ ”

Regan then moved on to other comparisons, drawing a parallel between his recent victory in the Republican primary and the biblical story of David and Goliath.

A shocked Harris, however, tried to cut in as Regan and the discussion’s host, Rescue Michigan Coalition founder Adam de Angeli, moved on. When de Angeli gave Harris the chance to speak, she said Regan’s comments were “shameful.”

“I’ve got advice to give to your daughters: Don’t do that,” Harris said. “Fight all the time.”

One of Regan’s daughters urged voters not to elect him to office in a viral tweet during his 2020 bid for the state House.

“If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone,” Stephanie Regan wrote on Twitter.

Regan, who last week advanced to the general election after winning the special Republican primary by 81 votes, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. On Monday, he told Bridge Michigan, a local news outlet, that “sometimes” his words “aren’t as smooth and polished as the politicians are because I’m not a politician.”

“I’m working on it,” Regan said. “The only reason the left trolls attack you is because they know you’re directly over the target, dropping direct hits on an issue. If you’re not scoring hits, they leave you alone.”

He said his comments on rape and the election only meant “nothing is inevitable.”

De Angeli told The Washington Post in an email conversation Tuesday that it was clear to him that Regan was “speaking extemporaneously.”

“Upon reviewing the video, I think he was actually talking about the 2020 election and saying that Republicans shouldn’t concede that Biden won fairly,” De Angeli said, adding that Regan apologized for his comment.

During the discussion, Regan also said that, if elected, he’d push for the decertification of the results of the 2020 election in Michigan. Under both state and federal law, a state can’t decertify an election.

“We do want to decertify this election and we do want it returned to the rightful owner, just like if someone stole your car or stole your jewelry,” Regan said. “It goes back to the rightful owner. You decertify and you give it to the rightful owner, and that’s Donald Trump, and that’s what I’m pushing for and we’re going full-bore on that.”

Other comments by Regan surfaced online after a clip of the live stream went viral, including a 2021 Instagram post from the candidate in which he claimed that feminism is a “Jewish program to degrade and subjugate White men.” Regan has also called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “fake war just like the fake pandemic.

Regan’s comments drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, with Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock calling them “offensive and disappointing.”

“I’d like to think he didn’t mean what he said,” Maddock told Bridge Michigan. “If I could control what our candidates say all the time, that would be a great thing.”

The state party’s other co-chair, Ron Weiser, a former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, also criticized Regan.

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

Still, the party leaders did not call for Regan to drop out of the race.

Jason C. Roe, a Republican strategist in Michigan, said that while the group of people who continue to say that “we should re-litigate 2020 is shrinking,” the “obsession” among some Republicans in his state with a forensic audit of the presidential election is going to cause the party to miss out on “historic” gains in the next election.

“Increasingly, I think there’s a lot of frustration that we’re giving away our opportunities statewide, and I think this adds to the problems,” Roe said of Regan’s controversy. Regan, he said, is still poised to win this year’s election, but once the district is redrawn, “he’s gone.”

Regan will face Democrat Carol Glanville, Walker City commissioner, in a May 3 special election to fill the vacant Michigan House seat in the state’s Kent County.

The chair of the state’s Democratic Party, Lavora Barnes, said in a statement Monday that the state’s GOP should denounce Regan’s remarks and make clear that the 2020 presidential election will not be decertified.

“This type of language is disgusting and Michigan Republicans have got to stand up and denounce Regan’s remarks and what his candidacy represents,” Barnes said. “If they don’t, Regan will be the face of the Michigan Republican Party. His extreme views and reckless comments on the Russian invasion, 2020 election results and now rape show he is totally unfit for office.”

In 2012, Republican Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.) lost his bid for the U.S. Senate after a remark about “legitimate rape” that touched off an outcry among Republicans and Democrats. Akin, an abortion rights opponent, had suggested in an interview that women’s bodies could stop a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” “The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.

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