Jacksonville mayoral candidate Mike Hogan recently came under fire for jokingly saying “it may cross [his] mind” to bomb an abortion clinic, but the statement has done little to stifle high-profile endorsements from area police and fire unions and tea party groups. But not everyone is taking the comments in stride. Mi

Catholics for Choice, a pro-choice organization based in Washington, D.C., criticized Hogan’s “rhetoric of violence” in a recent interview with The Florida Independent.

Though Hogan released a statement after media coverage of the remarks intensified, many felt the apology seemed half-hearted. Hogan, who until recently acted as Duval County tax collector, defended his statements in interviews, saying he felt the comments had been blown out of proportion. According to Hogan, he was simply pandering to his audience.

“If I’ve got to measure everything I say, I mean, I’m not going to be politically correct,” said Hogan, in an interview with The Florida Times-Union. “That was a joke. This was an audience for this. This is a Catholic Church. I guarantee you they are 110 percent pro-life.”

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, wasn’t amused.

“I certainly understand the pressures of speaking in public, and realize that people can get carried away,” O’Brien said. “But if Hogan does aspire to be mayor, he needs to be setting a tone of responsibility, rather than engaging in a rhetoric of violence.”

According to O’Brien, Hogan’s claims that his audience was “110 percent pro-life” are likely way off.

“I sure hope he’s better on his figures and fiscal responsibilities than he is on his abilities to understand Catholics,” O’Brien said. “A poll that we conducted found that only 15 percent of Americans Catholics agree with the bishops that abortion should be made completely illegal, and a bishop’s poll found that only 11 percent of Americans agree that abortion should be made completely illegal.”

Though he has earned several endorsements, Hogan has also encountered his share of setbacks. In addition to the abortion clinic “joke,” he has been critiqued for his failure to attend recent campaign events. In fact, his noticeable absence at events has led to a satirical Twitter account, Mike Hogan’s Empty Chair.

Early voting for the Jacksonville mayoral race begins today. Election day is Tues., March 22.

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