Neomi Rao, whom President Donald Trump nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote in a 1994 op-ed for The Yale Herald that “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”
“If she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice,” Rao said at the time.
In her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, she said she regretted writing the piece. But Cruz characterized her comments as “very good advice.”
“I have two daughters,” he said. “I certainly intend to give them the advice not to drink to excess. And it is unquestionably true that any student that drinks to the points of getting drunk and losing control risks being a victim, risks being vulnerable.”
Rao faces an uphill battle for the seat, and not just because of her comments on date rape. Critics have also questioned remarks she made about LGBT rights, race and climate change, as well as her efforts to help the Trump administration dismantle key regulations. As the head of the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, she has helped weaken or kill rules surrounding campus sexual assault, fair housing and climate change.
Her record on sexual assault will no doubt evoke comparisons to her predecessor Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination was nearly scuttled after he was accused of sexual assaulting Christine Blasey Ford decades ago while drunk. Republicans vigorously defended him by downplaying his extensive history of heavy drinking and questioning her account.
Ted Cruz and Donald Trumps love/hate relationship
Ted Cruz and Donald Trumps love/hate relationship
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz challenges rival Donald Trump (L) about releasing his tax returns during the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Stone
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks with supporters of fellow candidate Donald Trump during a campaign event at The Mill in Marion, Indiana, U.S., May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump shows off the size of his hands as rivals Marco Rubio (L), Ted Cruz (2nd R) and John Kasich (R) look on at the start of the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo
Republican U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump (L) and Ted Cruz shake hands at the start of the Republican candidates debate sponsored by CNN at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (R) greets businessman Donald Trump onstage as they address a Tea Party rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. Both Cruz and Trump are U.S. Republican presidential candidates. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A delegate holds a sign that call for Ted Cruz delegates to support Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) talks with rival candidate Ted Cruz during a commercial break in the midst of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CNN at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Jim Stryker, of San Francisco, holds a sign in protest of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz during the California GOP convention in Burlingame, California, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz gestures over at rival candidate Donald Trump (L) at the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Republican U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump (L) and Ted Cruz (R) speak at the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Stone
A supporter holds up a sign with an error as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at a campaign event in Syracuse, New York April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Protesters stand outside the Town & Country Resort where Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is speaking at a rally in San Diego, California, United States, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Heidi Cruz, wife of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz, bites her lip and closes her eyes as she listens to her husband drop out of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during his Indiana primary night rally in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Bergin