(CNN) – John McCain on Monday defended the decision to postpone and move a fundraiser that was initially to be hosted by Clayton ‘Claytie’ Williams, a Texas oilman who joked about rape when running for governor in 1990.
“My people were not aware of the statement that he made 16 or 18 years ago,” McCain told CNN’s Dana Bash. “So when we found out that this was planned there we said ‘Nope, we’ll reschedule it and do it some place else,’ and I understand that he’s not attending. That’s pretty much the sum of it all.”
McCain added that the campaign will keep the $300,000 Williams has reportedly raised for him, arguing, “the people who contributed are supporters of mine, not supporters of his.”
He did not answer how he thought this might affect his outreach to women.
“The only thing more insulting than John McCain’s willingness to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash raised by Claytie Williams is his attempt to get away with it by simply changing the venue of his fundraiser,” an Obama spokesman e-mailed Monday morning. “It’s clear that John McCain is more concerned with dealing with a ‘perception problem’ than in condemning these despicable remarks or in living up to the straight talk reputation he brags about."
Williams had compared rape to the weather, saying, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” He later apologized.