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Congresswoman's Wheelchair Slam Showed "Insensitivity", Says Opponent

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

CHEYENNE, WYOMING--Republican U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Cubin and her Libertarian opponent Thomas Rankin disagree on many things.

But what made the headlines last week was their disagreement over what Cubin told Rankin after last Sunday's televised debate.

According to Rankin, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a motorized wheelchair, Cubin came over to him and said, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."

"It took me totally off guard," Rankin later told the Star-Tribune. "I said, 'Barbara, if you feel the need to slap me, go right ahead.'"

Rankin said Cubin's statement showed "her insensitivity to people with disabilities."

Cubin recalled that, after Rankin misrepresented her record, she went over to him and said, "if you had said that to anyone else, they probably would have smacked you."

During a radio interview Tuesday, Cubin said, "It was person to person, and it was not an attack on the disabled."

"In retrospect, I was wrong in what I said, and I apologize."

Rankin responded that Cubin had not apologized directly to him, and added, "Barbara has been a loose cannon too long. She needs to be reined in."

Cubin tells challenger, 'I'd slap you' (Casper Star-Tribune)
Cubin: 'I was wrong' (Associated Press via Jackson Hole Star-Tribune)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.