Violent Rhetoric Infects Republican Campaigns Post-Giffords Shooting
One would think the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords would dictate caution. But guns and violent rhetoric continue to be part of right-wing campaigns.
- In California’s 38th District, a Republican law enforcement officer challenging Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez released a campaign video titled “Take Linda Sanchez OUT!” featuring an animated machine gun. “Mr. Robles is in law enforcement, if you’re not aware of that, so I think it’s his way of just kind of sending our message,” campaign manager Robert Davis told Politicker last week. But the campaign pulled the video after it drew wide condemnation, and it is now listed as private on YouTube. “Mr. Robles did not authorize that video to be placed or posted on the website,” Davis told TPM. “There was no review of that and we feel that yes, it was inappropriate.”
- Last week, Ron Gould (pictured), an Arizona state senator and tea party candidate for Congress, released an ad in which the candidate shoots the health care bill as if he’s shooting a clay pigeon. Guns come up a few times in the ad, including when the candidate mentions border security. “This is what I’d do to that law,” Gould says in the ad. He then calls out “pull” and shoots the bill as it’s launched into the air. The ad ends with Gould shooting his gun again. “I’m Ron Gould and I approve this message because Washington needs a straight shooter.
- [Jesse] Kelly, the Iraq War veteran running for Giffords’s seat, has stayed away from guns this time around — but a super PAC supporting him has not. In an email to supporters, the Move America Forward Freedom PAC recycled an image of Kelly from his 2010 campaign against Giffords in which the candidate is holding an assault rifle. “Send a Warrior to Congress,” the image urges supporters.”
- Sarah Steelman, a candidate in a three-way GOP Senate primary in Missouri, has twice landed herself in hot water over violent language directed at her would-be Democratic opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill. At a tea party rally this spring, activist Scott Boston told the audience, “We have to kill the Claire Bear, ladies and gentlemen.” The comments were enough to draw the attention of the U.S. Capitol Police, but rather than condemn the remark, Steelman stood by it. “I may disagree with the words Mr. Boston chose in his statement,” Steelman said in a statement, “but I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views.”A few weeks later, Steelman flexed her muscles when posting for a picture at a tea party rally and announced she was “ready to punch Claire McCaskill out.”
- In New York, Rep. Nan Hayworth ran into trouble when her campaign spokesman Jay Townsend suggested hurling acid at female Democratic senators on a Facebook discussion board. “Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector,” Townsend wrote. Days after the posting, Townsend resigned.