(AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File). FILE - This Nov. 21, 2011 file photo shows Rep.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -
A Tennessee congressman, in his first public comments since reports that he once urged a mistress to get an abortion, said that the woman turned out not to be pregnant.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a freshman Republican who opposes abortion, did not dispute a transcript of a recorded phone conversation in which he appears to urge the woman to terminate the pregnancy. His remarks came in an interview Thursday with WTN-FM.
DesJarlais says these are just attacks by his current opponent, former opponent and his ex-wife.
But it appears some Republican leaders are distancing themselves from DesJarlais.
"There's a lot of things I would change, a lot of things I would do differently. I can tell you there was no pregnancy, there was no abortion. And there are a lot of distortions in this," DesJarlais said.
DesJarlais on his website espouses a platform that opposes abortion, saying: "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life."
The undated phone recording appears to have been made before DesJarlais' divorce from his wife, Susan, was finalized in 2001.
According to the transcript, DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, told the woman that he was concerned that she hadn't taken steps toward terminating the pregnancy.
"You told me you'd have an abortion, and now we're getting too far along without one," DesJarlais is quoted as saying. "If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it."
DesJarlais in the transcript appeared to blame the woman for becoming pregnant.
"You lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that's not my fault, that's yours," he said.
The woman responded: "Well, it's your fault for sleeping with your patient."
This all comes as his campaign releases a slew of new re-election ads. But the fallout continues, as presidential candidate Mitt Romney removed his endorsement of DesJarlais from his campaign website.
And DesJarlais' Democratic opponent, Eric Stewart, is calling on state Republican leaders to condemn his actions.
"He's given doctors a bad name. He's given public servants a bad name, and he's given the state of Tennessee a bad name. It's an embarrassment," Stewart said.
In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, DesJarlais said the only reason he said what he did in the phone call was because he believed the woman was not pregnant and was trying to get her to tell the truth.
He also said at the time he was seeing the woman he and his ex-wife had a written agreement that they could see other people.
He has since remarried, and said he has enjoyed a "near perfect" marriage for the last decade.
"I would hope that when the voters judge me, they judge me on the marriage I have now," DesJarlais said in the radio interview.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Wednesday, August 20 2014 11:54 AM EDT2014-08-20 15:54:07 GMT
A youth baseball coach from Rhode Island who has become an Internet sensation for the inspiring speech he made after his team was eliminated from the Little League World Series says the talk was spontaneous and...More >>
A youth baseball coach from Rhode Island who has become an Internet sensation for the inspiring speech he made after his team was eliminated from the Little League World Series says the talk was spontaneous and from the...More >>