Delaware senator Tom Carper was confronted during his Wednesday night debate with Republican Rob Arlett on his admission that he hit his previous wife hard enough to leave her with a black eye, but he denied lying about hitting her.
Arlett brought the issue of spousal abuse to the table, referencing the Free Beacon‘s discovery last year of an admission by Carper that he had hit his wife, accusing Carper of trying to "cover up" his actions during his political career.
"It is now public information that you had abused your former wife, there was a lie for 19 years about that," Arlett said before he was interrupted by Carper, who called his statement "baloney."
"Let's set the record straight, every one of us makes mistakes, God knows I made my share of mistakes," Carper said. "Forty years ago I made a mistake, I owned it, I didn't hide it, it was public knowledge."
There is little information to support Carper's claim that he "didn't hide" from the accusation when it was first raised, and, in fact, a lot of information to the contrary.
When the accusation first surfaced in a 1982 news report, Carper, a candidate for Congress, said it was "totally false" and "without basis in fact." He also threatened to sue the New York Post for libel.
"Let me say clearly and categorically that the implications in that story are without basis in fact," Carper said at the time, calling the story an "outrageous" attempt at "political character assassination."
Veteran Delaware reporter Celia Cohen, who wrote the 1998 book containing Carper's admission, reported in the book that Carper refused to discuss the allegations.
"He would not speak of the allegations, even when they were repackaged and resurfaced 14 years later while he was running for a second term as governor," Cohen wrote. "In an interview in 1998 for this writing, however, he dealt with them straightforwardly."
Carper's former wife, Dianne Carper, passed away in 2013. Carper filed for divorce just months after winning his 1982 election, citing "irreconcilable differences."
A more detailed accounting of Carper's handling of the incident can be read here.
Arlett said during the debate that a woman had entered Carper's Senate office this week and demanded he resign, citing the spousal abuse.
Carper said the woman was "over the top," "out of control," and "bonkers."