Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown said Friday he was "joking" about the "Thank God" quip he made after Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren said she didn't pose nude to pay for college.
The spat began Tuesday during a Democratic primary debate. Warren, when asked how she paid for school, said she "kept [her] clothes on" -- a reference to Brown's infamous Cosmopolitan photo spread when he was in law school.
Asked about Warren's remark during a radio interview Thursday, Brown replied "Thank God" and ignited a gender-based firestorm.
Among his critics were the National Organization for Women, which suggested he shouldn't run for re-election and called his comments "the kind of sexist misogynistic attack that we have very sadly come to expect from politicians whenever there is a strong woman who is capable and really dedicated to the betterment of all people.” The Massachusetts Democratic Party said they were "the kind of thing you would expect to hear in a frat house, not a race for U.S. Senate."
Warren, the former White House financial reform adviser, brushed off Brown's comments, saying "I’ll survive a few jabs from Scott Brown over my appearance."
Speaking to reporters Friday, Brown made no apologies for his remark and dismissed it as just a "wisecrack."
“I was responding to a wisecrack she made about a decision I made to help pay for school, it’s as simple as that,’ Brown said, according to the Boston Globe.
When pressed again, Brown suggested he draws undue scrutiny for the things he says as a Republican in the heavily Democratic state.
“Listen, I’m a Republican from Massachusetts,’’ Brown said. “Everything I do and say, every decision I made since the day I was elected is praised, criticized, dissected. And that’s OK. She was joking. I was joking. I’m not quite sure what else to say.’’
Several of Brown's Senate colleagues stepped up to defend him earlier in the week as the story unfolded, including New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte.
“I know Scott Brown’s story, and I know that he had many obstacles to overcome in his youth," Ayotte said of Brown's photo shoot. "It’s inappropriate to make light of his personal circumstances, or to disparage or belittle him for the decisions he made to improve his life. Scott is one of the best guys to work with in the Senate, and I am proud to call him my colleague.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) made a similar statement: “Scott was merely responding to comments made by professor Warren in which she made light of the difficult choices in his life."