A Kansas state senator vying for Congress is standing by inflammatory comments he made this month at a Leavenworth County Republican Party meeting.
"Outside Western civilization, there is only barbarism," said Steve Fitzgerald, who is one of seven GOP candidates running in the 2nd congressional district primary.
Fitzgerald's comments were first reported by CNN on Saturday. A "Democratic operative" provided audio from a 30-minute speech Fitzgerald gave July 2.
"I’m fairly plainspoken," Fitzgerald told The Star Saturday. "I think the story speaks for itself."
He criticized CNN for quoting him out of context but did not dispute the accuracy of the comments.
"Our Judeo-Christian ethic is what is civilization," Fitzgerald said at the meeting. "And that is what is under attack here and abroad. It also goes by a different name. Christendom. It's under attack. And even speaking about it can bring you under attack. It has brought me under attack."
Fitzgerald is vying for the Republican nomination in a race to replace U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who is retiring. The primary is Aug. 7.
Fitzgerald's current district as a state senator covers parts of Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties.
At the meeting, he also doubled down on earlier remarks he made comparing abortion to the Holocaust.
In response, a group of rabbis with the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City demanded he stop comparing the slaughter of millions by Nazis to abortion.
"We demand that you cease immediately making these offensive and divisive comparisons to the Holocaust for political purposes, and to find different language to discuss abortion, out of respect for the millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust," the group wrote.
The Kansas Republican Party made the same demand, CNN reported.
On Saturday, Fitzgerald said that Nazi Germany, a Western society, was a "deviation" from Western civilization's norms.
Last year, an anonymous person submitted a donation to Planned Parenthood in Fitzgerald's name. Fitzgerald lashed out, saying he felt it was as bad as or worse than being associated with the concentration camp Dachau.
Asked about his analogy, Fitzgerald first denied he was likening abortion to the Holocaust, then acknowledged he was "making a reference," before again invoking the Holocaust.
"When we treat human life as though it has no worth, we’re going down the same road that we did then," he said.
At the July 2 meeting, he seemed to argue that Planned Parenthood was waging worse atrocities than the Nazis.
"It was a firestorm. I got calls from everywhere, 'How dare you? How could you? How could you compare it to Dachau?'" he said. "I said, 'You are right. Dachau really wasn't one of the bigger killing camps, and these guys' numbers are way beyond anything that they did.'"
Several of Fitzgerald's primary opponents could not be reached or declined to comment on Saturday. The Republicans' likely opponent in November, Democrat Paul Davis, also could not be reached for comment.