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McKenna and State Democrats Trade Barbs Over "Get A Job" Video

Video shows McKenna's reaction after being approached in the street by a woman asking about his stance on the Reproductive Parity Act.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in this November's general election, and the Washington State Democrats traded barbs this week, after a video surfaced showing McKenna telling a woman to "get a job" after she approached him on a Seattle street and asked about his stance on the Reproductive Parity Act.

The woman in the video, Kendra Obom, approached McKenna as he exited the Red Lion Conference Center in Seattle, and asked him what he thought of the state legislation, which would have required that insurance plans in the state that cover maternity care include coverage abortions. It did not pass

In the video — which is partially inaudible and has poor sound quality — McKenna declines to take a position, and then criticizes Obom for trying to "bushwhack" him for political advantage.

"My stance is I'm an lawyer for the state," McKenna says in the video. "You can turn that recorder off if you'd like, instead of trying to bushwhack me. Its not really very polite, is it? Do you think you're honest?"

He then tells the woman she's not being honest and tells her to "get a job."

The Washington State Democrats released this statement in response to the video:

McKenna's response, as well as his verbal attacks on Kendra Obom, run close to the new national Republican standard when asked about issues relating to a woman's right to choose: ignore the question, attack the questioner. It also raises more questions about McKenna's actual views on women's reproductive rights. The Reproductive Parity Act has been the main choice issue facing Washington State this year, yet McKenna has repeatedly dodged questions about his stance on it, despite his campaign spokesperson saying last week that candidates should weigh in on issues in Olympia.

"The reproductive parity act is an important issue for me and the various communities I come from," Obom said. "It affects my family, peers and the young women I work with. It stopped me in my tracks to experience both his aggression and disregard for me as an interested community member and as a voter. Rob McKenna has still failed to answer my question, and ultimately, I expect him to."

Read the entire press release on their website. The Seattle Times reported that that Obom has a job, working for YMCA youth programs. (She identifies herself in the video as a "youth worker.")

McKenna, through his campaign, released the following statement in response to the coverage and the video:

I support our existing, voter-approved state law which guarantees women access to insurance coverage for reproductive healthcare.  I do not support changing the law in a way that could put federal funding of women's healthcare at risk.  Supporters of changes to our existing state law evidently believe that the new federal healthcare law will jeopardize women's access to health insurance which covers reproductive healthcare; if true, that would be an unfortunate consequence of a massive bill which few in Congress bothered to read before voting on it.

What do you think? Fair question or an ambush in an election year? Tell us in the comments.

Ira B. Appelman April 27, 2012 at 12:50 PM
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE. The question about the Reproductive Parity Act was both a fair question AND an ambush in an election year. We've found on Mercer Island that, in a democracy, if you are persistent and have a good question, you can eventually get your question fully answered. The late Bill Taylor had served in two wars and was unconcerned about what politicians thought of him. He noticed that the City of Mercer Island was pursuing building a new community center on land they didn't own because it was technically owned by the School District. The City had a lease-purchase agreement, but didn't own the land. Bill continued to bring that up at council meetings and wherever he could get an audience. The City Council ignored, dismissed, and disparaged him. However, before building the new Mercer Island Community Center, they purchased the land. Ms. Obom cleverly ambushed WA Attorney General McKenna in an election year. It's not about the video or the audio. Many people will be offended if you make a fuss about anything. However, if she remains persistent and it turns out to be a good question, she will likely get a full answer, regardless of what anybody thinks about her or her tactics.
Sarah Weinberg April 27, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Mr. McKenna is not just an ordinary citizen going about his business and being "rudely" accosted by a stranger. He is our state's Attorney General and a candidate for our Governor. His constituency includes this young woman who tried to ask him a question he didn't want to answer. In this situation, Mr. McKenna's non-reply to the question, attempted brush-off, and then personal attack on the questioner was totally inappropriate. Is this the way he would treat me, should I want to speak to him on a controversial question? I think it was President Truman who said: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Mr. McKenna has the option to drop out of public life and become a private citizen again. Then he can be rude to anyone approaching him on the street without consequences. Mr. McKenna, I hope my vote will send you home!

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