Ted Strickland says he regrets saying for-profit charter schools have 'raped' taxpayers, but stands by criticism
LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Ted Strickland said Saturday that he regrets his choice of words when he said in Columbus this week that for-profit charter schools have "raped" Ohio taxpayers.
"I should have said they were robbing taxpayers. I should have said they were cheating taxpayers. It was a poor choice of words," said Strickland, a former Ohio governor who is challenging U.S. Sen. Rob Portman this November. "But the truth is, charter schools have been taking money out of our public schools, and they've been enriching Republican donors, and it's been shameful."
Strickland added there are good charter schools, he just meant to condemn Ohio's failure to regulate them properly, particularly for-profit charter schools and online schools.
"We are an embarrassment because even people who are strong advocates for charter schools understand the way they've been managed in Ohio has been pathetic," Strickland said. "That's what I was trying to convey."
Republicans had attacked Strickland for his word choice, which was captured in a video of a Wednesday speech Strickland gave on Wednesday in Columbus. The video was released Friday afternoon, and was shot by a video tracker, a political staffer whose job it is to follow candidates and record them.
On Friday evening, the Ohio Republican Party issued a statement saying it was "shameful" that Ohio media had not asked Strickland whether he would apologize for his comments.
"While we expect Ted Strickland to continue to lash out during the next 30 days, he should be held accountable for his casual and reprehensible invocation of rape," state party spokeswoman Brittany Warner said in an email.
Also Friday, a video emerged from 2005 showing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump vulgarly bragging about how his fame and fortune allowed him to kiss women and grope their genitals with impunity.
The Ohio Republican Party statement didn't address Trump's video, which on Saturday has caused Republican officials across the country — although not Portman — to rescind their endorsement of Trump. Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges in a Saturday interview said the statement about Strickland's comments wasn't meant to draw an equivalence between Strickland and Trump's words, which he said were "vile."
Borges said the women who hold nearly all positions of leadership in the state Republican Party were offended by Strickland's remarks.
"He needs to be more careful with his word choice, especially in this heightened environment," Borges said.
Trump, himself, has repeatedly used the phrase "rape" rhetorically multiple times during this year's presidential campaign, including saying China was "raping" the United States in May, and making similar remarks about the the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in June.
Ohio Republican Party officials said they have spoken out when Trump has used divisive rhetoric, and shared past examples in which Borges has criticized Trump, although they did not appear to have publicly criticized Trump's own "rape" comments.
Strickland addressed the topic on Saturday following a campaign stop in Lakewood, where he appeared with former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Lakewood State Rep. Nicki Antonio. In the appearance, he criticized Portman for voting against a bill that would have banned people appearing on a terrorism watch list from buying guns.
Giffords, who was shot in the head and nearly killed in 2011 by a mentally ill man, has since become a become an advocate for increased gun regulations. While she spoke on Saturday, she continues to suffer the effects from her injuries, and struggled to precisely form her words.Ted Strickland says he regrets saying for-profit charter schools have 'raped' taxpayers, but stands by criticism | cleveland.com: