CNN —  

Republican Rep. Jason Lewis defended Thursday comments he made in 2012 lamenting that women could no longer be called “sluts.”

CNN’s KFile reported on Wednesday that Lewis repeatedly demeaned women during a period of 15 months on his radio show, “The Jason Lewis Show.” The show’s audio was obtained by CNN’s KFile from Michael Brodkorb, a columnist and former deputy chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Lewis, who was narrowly elected to represent Minnesota’s 2nd District in 2016, is considered one of the most endangered House Republicans in the midterm election. CNN rates the race as a “toss up,” the most competitive designation.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon in an interview with local Minnesota station WCCO’s “The Chad Hartman Show,” Lewis defended his past statements.

“Look, a rhetorical discussion about the cultural changes and whether we can hold anyone, male or female, to standards made for an interesting hour, made for an interesting rhetorical discussion,” Lewis said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do on talk radio. And if you’re provocative when you do it, well, that’s part of our job. I presume, you know, the people that are running with this story are looking for ratings as well. So, it’s kind of sad that it’s come back to this, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Lewis said he would not have a problem having the same discussion on his program today.

“I would not have a problem at all going to the same discussion … because I don’t tell my daughters to behave like some people in Hollywood behave,” he said. “I still hold those standards. I think most women in the 2nd District holds those standards. And so the question becomes, have we come to a place in life where you can’t hold people to those standards, and you can’t shame people, male or female, for behaving in a way that our parents told us we shouldn’t behave? That’s really outrageous? That line of thought? That questioning? That conversation?”

Lewis, asked how his daughters would react to his comments, said he would tell them to not behave in a way they would be looked down on.

“I would say I probably prefer you don’t behave in a way that people would look down upon you and that’s what I tell them and that’s how I raised them,” he said. “That’s controversial?”

Lewis added his job was to be provocative on the radio.

“I was paid to be provocative,” he said. “There’s a difference between a politician and a pundit. That’s why going back six years, eight years, 10 years, 15 years, misses the point. There’s a different role. That discussion you just mentioned was a rhetorical discussion about societal changes and what’s happened, what’s happened to shame. Do we have too much or too little of it now? Of course there’s a big difference. That’s the point I’ve been making.”