(ThinkProgress) Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) resigned his position as first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party late on Sunday evening amid criticism of comments he made on his radio show about women on welfare.
On a recent episode of his show The Russell Pearce Show, as the Phoenix New Times originally reported, he told a caller, “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”
Later in the episode, he said, “I know there’s people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too. But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community.”
In the statement announcing his resignation, he called the criticism of his remarks, which were denounced by state Democrats as well as Republican nominees for a variety of posts, a “mistake.” He said there “was a discussion about the abuses to our welfare system” and he “shared comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author.”
I think it’s important to point out that these views are in no way outside what, for lack of a better term, I’ll have to call the mainstream of the GOP base. If it were up to rightwing bloggers, nutjobs on Twitter, and Tea Party types, Pearce’s opinions would be written into the GOP’s party platform.
What this move tells us is that, in a post-Akin world, the Republican Party is extremely skittish when it comes to anti-woman sentiment — i.e., the “War on Women” rhetoric has been far more effective than the GOP establishment is willing to admit. The inherent dog whistle racism of using genocidal means to fight poverty can’t have helped either.
It also tells us that the Tea Party extremist base has lost a lot of power. They’re more worried about offending the average voter than of alienating the Gadsden Flag-waving ‘baggers.