Self-funded “outsider” Republicans running for major offices are often aligned with the Tea Folk, sometimes out of personal conviction, sometimes because it’s easy for them to strike poses without the inconvenience of a voting or governing record.

In Iowa, though, the self-funding “outsider” in the 2014 U.S. Senate race shows every sign of being the insider’s “outsider,” and perhaps the best bet for what’s left of the moderate “business” wing of a conservative-activist dominated GOP: former energy executive Mark Jacobs. An ally of Gov. Terry Branstad (he’s served on an education policy commission for Branstad, which is a bit dicey in a state party where hostility to “government schools” is rampant), Jacobs recently made his Senate bid official, and seems so far to be running on a generic reform-and-efficiency message that, much like Branstad’s over the years, could bore the opposition into submission. He’s already being viewed as a probable frontrunner.

So that makes it interesting that he’s committed an early gaffe, per this report from HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel:

As Republican candidates figure out how to best win over women voters, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs thinks he has the answer: appeal to their emotions.

In an interview Sunday with WHO-TV in Des Moines, host Dave Price asked Jacobs what the “biggest difference between men and women” is, in terms of reaching out to them as voters.

“I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level,” said Jacobs. “And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I’ve had a lot of coaching on that.”

The national attention Jacobs is receiving isn’t terribly consistent with the sort of generic campaign he’s running. I supposed it’s possible he was trying to bond with anti-feminist conservatives (though I doubt conservative women were real happy about being reduced to their hormones) or to make himself into a Liberal Media Victim. But more likely, he made a mistake that will cost him a lot of money to overcome.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.