Maine Republican Opposes Medicaid Expansion Because of His 'Man Brain'

Republican strategists say some pols just don't get the political consequences.

widemodern_trentfranks_061213.jpg
By + More

Another day, another Republican apologizing for making offensive comments about women.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stumbled first Wednesday, saying "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low" during a House Judiciary Committee debate on his bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, even in cases of rape and incest.

[READ: Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe Says Reid, McConnell Responsible for Senate Breakdown]

Franks was immediately criticized by a Democratic colleague who noted his statement was not based in science.

Later Wednesday, Maine House Republican Leader Ken Fredette, said during a floor debate he opposes expanding Medicaid because of his "man's brain."

As I listen to the debate today and the earlier debate on this bill, I can't help but think of a title of a book – "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." And it's a book about the fact that men sort of think one way in their own brain in their own world and women think another way in their brain and their own world. And it really talks about the way that men and women can do a better job at communicating. Because if you listen to the debate today, in my mind, a man's mind, I hear really two fundamental issues. From the other side of the aisle, I hear the conversation being about free – 'This is free, we need to take it and it's free and we need to do it now.' And that's sort of the fundamental message that my brain receives. Now my brain, being a man's brain, sort of thinks differently. Because I say it's not – if it's free, is it really free? Because I say, in my brain, 'There's a cost to this.'

Maine Democrats wasted no time in knocking Fredette, who later apologized for the remark. Fredette did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lizzy Reinholt, the Maine Democratic Party communications director, said the initial comments spoke for themselves.

"This is just another example of how Maine Republicans – like national Republicans — are completely out of touch with the values of the people they serve," she said. "I'm speechless."

Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, says Republicans need to wise up to the fact that their words have political consequences.

"Imbecilic comments like that play right into the Democrats' 'war on women' messaging trap and the Republicans have got to get away from that," he says. "The Democrats are basically smart to play that up until Republicans can figure out how to either shut their mouths or respond against it."

Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate, Gabriel Gomez, who is running as a moderate in the liberal state, quickly condemned Franks' remarks.

[READ: Obama Stumping in Mass. Senate Race to Boost Minority Vote]

"I think that he's a moron and he proves that stupid has no specific political affiliation," he told ABC News. "I have no idea what goes into the mind of a moron like that. These kinds of comments only come from a moron and they shouldn't be tolerated one bit."

O'Connell says Gomez is right to use such strong language.

"Unfortunately, that's how clear you have to be because in a lot of ways this is a messaging game, forget the subject matter; they want to attach this to anyone who looks weak," he says, adding that it's been an extremely effective tactic for Democrats, particularly in 2012.

In the run up to last year's election, Democrats seized on offensive comments made by Republican Senate candidates about rape and abortion, as well as state level proposals to restrict access or require invasive procedures before allowing abortions. Democrats used the comments to paint the Republican ticket with broad strokes.

GOP officials acknowledged the remarks as politically poisonous and recommended politicians pay more attention to messaging in a report issued following the election.

"When it comes to social issues, the party must, in act and deed, be inclusive and welcoming," said the report. "If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues."