In a since-deleted Facebook post, Republican congressional candidate Jamie Berryhill compared a borderless country to a woman whose value was diminished because she was sexually assaulted.
"A nation without borders is like a woman raped and defiled, her precious value pillaged and taken,” the post read, according to a screenshot captured by Odessa TV station CBS 7.
The post was uploaded Tuesday evening and was deleted later in the day, reported CBS 7.
"Our nation is like women. If our borders are being encroached, it is like a woman. Like a precious woman, a person that is being defiled by an unruly infiltrator," Berryhill told CBS 7.
Berryhill said he would not make similar comments moving forward, CBS 7 reported.
But on Wednesday, Berryhill defended the sentiment of his earlier comments.
"If anyone wants to question whether or not my initial statement is offensive, I believe what everyone should be offended at is the gross assault upon our American citizens as we are being forced to endure the drugs, violence and burden being born by no borders," he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The Odessa business owner is one of the more serious candidates in the 10-way Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland. The district is safely Republican.
Berryhill has been endorsed by groups including the House Freedom Fund, which is affiliated with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and the anti-abortion Texas Right to Life.
The primary was shaken up last week when President Donald Trump endorsed one of the leading candidates, August Pfluger. Berryhill and several other Pfluger rivals have since banded together to decry outside influences in the primary.
Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman said in a statement that Berryhill’s comment is not an isolated incident. Rahman cited Berryhill’s “refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act” and his support of Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by women.
“To every Texas Republican who refuses to condemn Berryhill: silence is the same as being complicit,” Rahman said in a statement.