House candidate in trouble for criticizing diversity
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey Republican running for an open U.S. House seat recorded in a video saying "diversity is a bunch of crap" and later criticized by Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy, and Republicans says it was taken out of context and that it's "un-American" to use diversity as a benchmark for fairness.
Seth Grossman says the question he was asked earlier this year during a Republican primary wasn't included in the clip recorded by liberal political action committee American Bridge to the 21st Century and that if he could answer again, he wouldn't say "crap" and would have specified he was talking about diversity as a political agenda. But he's not backing away from his opposition using diversity as a yardstick in hiring or academia.
"(Diversity) is a wonderful thing in the abstract but when you have a political agenda that says every college, every business, that in order to be fair has to include people based on certain diversity boxes is ridiculous, unfair and un-American," Grossman said in an interview.
The video was first reported by Philly.com and has since made national headlines.
The roughly 2-minute clip shows Grossman, an attorney and former Atlantic County and Atlantic City elected official, saying that diversity has become an "excuse by Democrats, communists and socialists, basically" to argue that people are not created equal.
"The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American," he said in the video.
An additional, longer version of the video posted by American Bridge shows the question was: "What might we do to increase the diversity of the Republican Party?"
The recording touched off criticism from Democrats. Murphy called it "frankly disgusting." Grossman's Democratic rival, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, said he was "disappointed" in the comments.
Republicans distanced themselves from the remarks.
"Calling Democrats socialists and communists may sound tough in a roomful of Republicans, but it is juvenile and certainly no way to win over the many moderate and conservative Democrats in South Jersey," said GOP strategist Mike DuHaime, a former adviser to Republican Gov. Chris Christie. "Misguided rhetoric like this makes an already difficult race all that much harder for Republicans.
Grossman and Van Drew are the major party candidates in a race this fall being watched closely at the national level. Democrats have tapped Van Drew for the "red to blue" program aimed at boosting candidates viewed as having a chance to flip GOP-held seats.
Grossman emerged in an upset this month by winning a four-way GOP primary, defeating a former gubernatorial candidate, a one-time assemblyman and a retired FBI agent.
He ran as an unabashed supporter of President Donald Trump on what he calls a "Make America Great Again" agenda and said the main issues in the race included reducing illegal immigration, repealing the Affordable Care Act and protecting the 2nd Amendment.
He said he's not concerned about his comments having a negative effect on him in the general election. The district has about 207,000 independent voters and roughly 150,000 Democrats to 132,000 Republicans.
That's because affirmative action, which Grossman said was how diversity is achieved, is unpopular with voters, he said.
"I've met dozens of people who have been denied a job a promotion or scholarship to someone less qualified because they could not check off a diversity box," he said.
Grossman touched on other issues in the video clip as well, saying that child care tax credits were not needed when there were one-income households.
"Two factors of rising cost and declining income have forced both parents to work, and I don't think that's good for America for families or for children," he said. "We have a whole generation of American children being raised by baby sitters and day care and that is causing a whole lot of problems."
Federal Election Commission records show Grossman has about $11,000 cash on hand as of May. Van Drew reported just over $400,000.
The election is Nov. 6.
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