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Delaware Republican U.S. Senate candidate draws criticism for 'classless' RBG response

Jeff Neiburg
Delaware News Journal

Three days after Delaware's Republican voters made her their nominee for Delaware's U.S. Senate seat, Lauren Witzke is drawing harsh criticism for her campaign's social media posts following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A post on Witzke's campaign Facebook page said Ginsburg had "an obsession with abortion." The message included a meme of three Black children dancing.

Criticism on social media was swift and even came from some who said they voted for Witzke in Tuesday's primary. More than 1,000 people commented before the post was taken down.

Witzke said in an email Saturday morning that she removed the post after receiving threats and attempts to dox Witzke and her family. She reposted it Saturday morning without the photo attached.

Posted just hours after the Supreme Court justice died, the message read: "Ruth Bader Ginsberg's (sic) obsession with abortion overtly singled out blacks and minorities for extermination.

"Her own words from the 1970s tell us she didn't want too many blacks or poor folks procreating. Tens of millions of Black and Brown babies never got a chance at life because of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (sic).

"If elected, I pledge I will only ever vote to confirm a pro life justice to the Supreme Court."

The words "Black babies when Ruth Vader Ginsburg dies" (sic) were written on the image.

Facebook commenters chided Witzke as being "classless" and "an embarrassment" to Delaware. More than one commenter said they supported Witzke in the primary but the post made them think twice about November's general election.

The campaign's account later deleted the photo but kept the message up before ultimately removing it. Prior to its deletion, the post had more than 1,000 comments and 125 shares. After its reposting Saturday, a few Facebook users posted screenshots of the original post in the comments. 

Witzke said in an email that "my campaign will never apologize for protecting the sanctity of human life."

Ginsburg was long a pro-choice justice who was initially critical of the Supreme  Court's 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which was decided 20 years before she became a Supreme Court justice. After being confirmed in 1993, Ginsburg was known as one of the most liberal justices and a defender of abortion rights.

She wrote the dissent to a 2007 ruling that upheld a ban on a form of partial-birth abortions, which she called "an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this court." In 2016, she wrote a concurring stance to the majority rule against restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas. 

There is no evidence of Ginsburg particularly targeting communities of color, but abortion rates for Black women are higher than white women. 

"Is this part of your appeal to win over moderate Democrats in Delaware? I’m one of those, and we all revere RBG, and you just trashed her within hours of her death," one Facebook commenter said in response to subsequent Witzke post saying that a new justice needed to be confirmed quickly. "I think you need to read some history and start learning a little more about the people who have served this nation and helped it progress the way it has."

DELAWARE DEMS REACT: Biden, others mourn RBG, prepare for SCOTUS fight

A screenshot of the Lauren Witzke campaign's Facebook post.

State Republican Party chair Jane Brady did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Republican state Sen. Anthony Delcollo posted a statement on his Facebook page Saturday calling for the suspension of Witzke's campaign, citing Witzke being "unfit to lead." He asked the Republican Party of Delaware to revoke its support of Witzke.

"This post celebrated the death of a human being, who worked to comport herself with what she felt was right and good, with a vile, deeply repulsive, and racist meme," Delcollo wrote. "Such conduct is emblematic of what is wrong with the politics of today; we must not demonize one another even in the face of significant disagreements about important policy. I immediately condemned this candidate’s post and demanded that she take it down and apologize."

Earlier Saturday morning, the following message appeared on Witzke's Twitter account:

"I will not praise the woman who spearheaded the total destruction of Western Civilization. I refuse to cheer the career of a woman with the blood of millions of dead babies on her hands. David didn’t mourn the death of Goliath. I will not apologize for standing up for life."

The campaign's Facebook page on Saturday morning posted a screenshot of what appeared to be a death threat directed at Witzke. She said she reported the threat to Delaware State Police and the FBI.

Lauren Witzke celebrates winning the Republican Senate primary election at Fraizer's Restaurant in Dover on Tuesday, Sept. 15. She will face U.S. Sen. Chris Coons in November.

Witzke beat out GOP-endorsed Jim DeMartino for the right to face off with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons in the Nov. 3 election. Her campaign refers to Coons, known to be pretty moderate, as a "globalist." 

Witzke's campaign has previously featured controversial social media posts. Her platform is arguably more extreme than President Donald Trump's. She's pushing for a moratorium on immigration into the U.S. and financial incentives for people to get married and have children.

Delaware has not had a Republican senator since 2000, when Tom Carper defeated incumbent William Roth. 

More people voted for Coons (87,325) in Tuesday's primary race with Jess Scarane (32,536) than voted for the combined totals of Witzke (30,695) and DeMartino (23,263). 

Contact Jeff Neiburg at jneiburg@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.