John James' remark about breastfeeding draws criticism

Editor's note: Vanguard Senior Vice President Jen Eyer comments on John James' recent remarks about breastfeeding.

A remark by Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James at a VFW rally last week in which he referred to "grabbing boobs" as an infant has drawn fire for being insensitive to women and sexual assault survivors.

Others say it was clearly a joke and critics are overreacting.

In an Oct. 2 video recorded at an appearance in St. Clair Shores, James, 37, is seen addressing a crowd of mostly veterans, referring to the #MeToo movement and the controversy surrounding then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"I don't want to go to Washington. Who would right now?" James said to laughter. "You kidding me? You see what I was doing 36 years ago. Well, I was one so ... I was breastfeeding, but other than that ... so I guess I was grabbing boobs back then."

James, a former Army Apache helicopter pilot from Farmington Hills who has been endorsed by President Trump, faces Democrat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing in his first bid for public office. The two have scheduled debates Sunday in Grand Rapids and Monday in Detroit.

Jen Eyer, a senior vice president of Vanguard Public Affairs and a former communications director for Democrat Gretchen Whitmer's gubernatorial campaign, said she was disappointed by the remark and said it shows how he feels about women.

"I think that a candidate's remarks are always a window into their thoughts. ... He clearly has thoughts about women that are indicative of a lack of respect," she said.

"You have him making a joke that really conflates what is a very pure and natural moment between a mother and a baby with something sexual. That, to me, is revolting."

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