A recording of Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy making an inartful reference to the disabled during a speech in Las Vegas was seized by Nevada Democrats last week as fodder for an attack on the freshman congressman who’s their No. 1 target in the 2016 elections.
Speaking May 30 at a Libertarian Party Expo at the Tropicana, Hardy was bragging on his three kids, according to an excerpt posted online.
“They all work hard. They’re raising their own families. They’re doing their own thing. They will not be a drain on society, the best they can,” Hardy said.
The speech, recorded by a Democratic tracker in the audience, showed Hardy stumbled through the next sentence saying, “Hopefully they never have some disability that causes them to have to utilize that.”
The Nevada Democratic Party posted the audio and went into attack mode charging Hardy with being insensitive to disabled people. The accusation further ping-ponged around the Internet.
State Sen. Ruben Kihuen of Las Vegas said the comments were “shameful” and called on Hardy to apologize to Nevadans, “particularly those struggling with disabilities.”
Kihuen is one of three Democrats who have announced their candidacy to take on Hardy in the 4th Congressional District.
Hardy, asked about the speech after a House vote Thursday in Washington, said he did not remember making the comment and suggested it was altered or taken out of context.
“I would like to have it analyzed,” he said. “People try to manipulate things. I’ve seen that happen early on.” Hardy was referring to the flap during the 2014 campaign when video surfaced in which he agreed with Mitt Romney’s infamous comment about 47 percent of people living off the government.
Hardy disputed how he was being portrayed.
“My nature is to defend those who can’t take care of themselves, that’s what I believe,” he said. “I’ve always been a strong supporter of people to be able to get help when needed.”
“People get paid to distort the truth and try to manipulate things,” Hardy said. “That kind of conversation never went on. I think the Democrats ought to be embarrassed.”
If anything, he said, people with disability should be angry at being used by Democrats “to sell their game.”
“People get paid to distort things,” he said. “I’m the No. 1 target, folks.”