"You think you're having a hard time -- I got $5 million worth of negative ads going at me," Brat told Chesterfield County Jail inmates Wednesday, The Post reported.
"How do you think I'm feeling? Nothing's easy. For anybody. You think I'm a congressman. 'Oh, life's easy. This guy's off having steaks,'" Brat continued, in a recording
published by The Post. "Baloney, I got a daughter, she's got to deal with that crap on TV every day. It's tough.' "
In a statement after the event, Brat called meeting with those struggling with addiction "one of the most moving experiences" he has a congressman.
"As a Christian, we love the least of these -- we visit those in prison," Brat said in a press release
. "As a Member of Congress, one of the most moving experiences I have in this job is talking with recovering men and women fighting to rebuilding [sic] their lives."
Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who is running against Brat in an increasingly tight race, called Brat's comments "disturbing and damaging" and accused him of being "more concerned with his own re-election than the struggles and well-being of people in our communities."
"These comments are disturbing and damaging in the way that they belittle and trivialize addiction and the challenges facing those in recovery," Spanberger said in a statement. "However, time and time again, Congressman Brat has demonstrated he is a politician who is more concerned with his own re-election than the struggles and well-being of people in our communities, and sadly, his comments aren't surprising."
Spanberger more than tripled
the Republican incumbent's third quarter take, bringing in $3.6 million compared to $1 million for Brat.
Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard, who hosted Brat at the jail, called it "a shame" that the visit's intended focus on addiction solutions had been obscured by politics.