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Paging Dr. Freud: Rep. Steve Southerland opens mouth, inserts "lingerie shower."

@MarcACaputo

Well, at least Steve Southerland isn't talking about "legitimate rape."

But for a GOP Congressman stuck in a close race against a female Democrat, someone oughtta tell Southerland to be careful with the gender talk. Southerland was already on the defensive about a cigar-smoking boys-only "roundtable" he held. Then he hosted a women-for-Southerland-style event where his campaign misspelled U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis' last name.

On Friday, the Panama City congressman opened his mouth and wondered why the press isn't asking Democrat Gwen Graham about whether she ever attended a ladies-only "lingerie shower."

Huh? What's a "lingerie shower?" Most people know what baby showers are. And a few are probably familiar with lingerie shows. To combine the two is kinda creepy. Paging Dr. Freud... UPDATE: Turns out, I don't lead an interesting life. Sharp-eyed reader Sally West points out that "lingerie showers" are for brides to be. And that makes Southerland's comment even less helpful to his cause. And so still we can say: Paging Dr. Freud....

Southerland quickly realized the gaffe and issued this statement: "I regret that my comments are being misused for political gain. I was trying to make the point that some organizations host men-only events and some host women-only events. Gwen Graham should be more focused on explaining her background as a D.C. lobbyist and political insider than she is on mischaracterizing my remarks."

Indeed, this isn't the messaging Republicans want -- espcially because it happened during an event with Gov. Rick Scott and NJ Gov. Chris Christie. But some tried to find a bit of humor in it.

"Lingerie showers, whiskey/cigar nights, funeral director by day...I'm thinking his own reality tv show," GOP operative Mike Hanna said on Twitter

Meantime, we know what Democrats'll do with the phrase: re-up the war on women talk. A while back, I said on Twitter that Southerland would probably win this race by about 4 or more points. Perhaps not if this keeps up.

"Steve Southerland’s latest jaw-dropping gambit to appeal to women: demean and ridicule us by claiming a ‘lingerie party defense,'" the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in the statement. 

So file the following dispatch from Steve Bousquet, Tampa Bay Times bureau chief in its joint state capital bureau with the Miami Herald, under the heading "self inflicted wounds." Bottom line: It's just never good campaign practice to bolster an opponent's stereotype. 

Florida Democrats tried to blunt the impact of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's visit by labeling him anti-women along with Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland of Panama City, who also joined Scott's tax cut bus tour across the Panhandle.

With polls showing a gender gap in the governor's race that favors Charlie Crist, Democrats are trying to widen the gap by emphasizing Scott's opposition to raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women and abortion rights.

"They're going to do everything they can to avoid being in front of women voters. That's why they're going to Wakulla (County)," Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant told reporters on a conference call. (Scott and Christie headlined a Friday GOP rally at which a majority of the 200-or-so guests were women).

Tant also criticized Southerland for organizing a men only fund-raiser that has been widely criticized as sexist. The event included this on the invitations: "Tell the Misses not to wait up because the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many." Southerland faces a strong challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham.

Asked to respond to the Democrats' criticism that he's anti-women, Southerland laughed and said: "I live with five women. That's all I'm saying. I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?"

--blog has been updated

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