Nashville, Tenn. (CBS CHARLOTTE) – A Republican congressman and anti-abortion rights physician once tried to persuade a patient of his to get an abortion.
Freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) is heard in a phone call from 2000 in which he tells the woman, “you told me you’d have an abortion.” DesJarlais had reportedly had a sexual relationship with the woman, according to the Huffington Post report published Wednesday.
When asked for a comment on the Huffington Post story by The Fix, a DesJarlais spokesperson didn’t deny the report, but wrote off the new development as old news.
“This is old news from the last election cycle that Tennesseans have already widely rejected. Desperate personal attacks do not solve our nation’s problems, yet it appears that there are those who choose to continue to engage in the same gutter politics that were characterized by national media as the nastiest in the nation just two years ago,” the spokesperson told HuffPost.
“Since the congressman’s opponents cannot attack him on his independent, conservative and pro-life record in Congress they have once again resorted to pure character assassination.”
According to the Washington Post, this isn’t the first time DesJarlais’s personal life has become an issue. His 2010 campaign had to contend with attacks over documents pertaining to his divorce that alleged violent behavior.
Desjarlais’s opponent in the 4th District race is Democratic state legislator Eric Stewart. Through mid-July, DesJarlais had nearly $600,000 in his campaign account to Stewart’s $153,000, according to campaign finance reports.
However, the Democrat is still facing a steep uphill climb given that the area is heavily Republican.
Redistricting shifted some new territory into DesJarlais’s district, and he faced the prospect of a potentially tough primary challenge from state Sen. Bill Ketron (R), who ultimately opted against a bid. If DesJarlais wins reelection this year, Ketron may give a 2014 challenge a close look.