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Very Real

Oregon Congressional Candidate Defends Himself After Comparing FLOTUS To Prostitute

Mark Roberts appears to have a history of making sexist remarks against female political figures, including Nikki Haley and Kamala Harris.

By Samira Sadeque

An Oregon politician has come under fire after he compared First Lady Melania Trump to a prostitute in a tweet posted Monday.

Congressional Candidate Mark Roberts, who identifies as an independent conservative, made the comment while responding to a tweet by Charlie Kirk, a right-wing commentator and founder of the conservative Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization.

Kirk tweeted on Monday that Melania Trump has fewer staff members designated to her than Michelle Obama did. Roberts then replied to the tweet: “Did you know the First Lady works by the hour? #thinkdirty #hoebag.”

Roberts' comment was retweeted more than 700 times and had more than 15,000 replies as of Friday afternoon.

The candidate's response was sharply rebuked by other Twitter users—some who appear to mistakenly assume he is a Democrat.

“This is utterly unacceptable and misogynist. As a woman and lifelong Democrat, I don't want someone who thinks like you purporting to represent my interests. You've proven you cannot. Cc @TheDemocrats #TimesUp #MeToo,” one user tweeted.

“Is Mark Roberts' district so liberal that he believes disrespecting the First Lady will win him votes?” another tweeted. “Oregonians should be ashamed of him, and if they think this is acceptable they should be ashamed of themselves.”

“No matter who you support, or what political persuasion you follow, a comment like this is NEVER ok,” another user tweeted. “You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.”

Someone called on him to “drop out” of politics, while others tweeted at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to demand he take down the tweet.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted “.@jack this attack on @FLOTUS is disgraceful. Comments like these have no business on any platform. This account should be banned ASAP.”

But the tweet was not taken down as Twitter could not “identify any violations of the Twitter rules,” as Roberts tweeted a screenshot of the message on Tuesday with the caption “It’s that whole 1st amendment thing,” in his own defense, it would seem.

Experts, meanwhile, suggested the tweet may have just been an attempt by Roberts to garner attention—in which case it seems to be working.

Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, told The Oregonian that this is likely the most visibility Roberts will get as a politician since he has slim chances against his opponent, nine-time incumbent Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican.

Such remarks are apparently nothing new for Roberts, who seemingly has a history of tweeting sexist remarks at female politicians.

“#NikkiHaley very hot,” he tweeted last year, in reference to a TV appearance made by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, according to the New York Post.

He also once referred to Sen. Kamala Harris as “Hot, tough & smart!” the Post reports.

He appears to have engaged in fat-shaming as well, as seen in a comment he reportedly wrote on a video of President Trump: “It looks like he’s morphing into a woman, get that man a haircut and non-fat chocolate cake!”

In a statement delivered to the Post, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed and explained the website's decision to keep Roberts’ tweet: “We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations. Accordingly, we have not taken any action at this time.”

[Photo: Melania Trump seen at a roundtable discussion on cyber safety and technology at the White House in March 2018 in Washington, D.C. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]