INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Messer today claimed that a Montana Republican candidate’s decision to physically attack a reporter may benefit him in tonight’s election, raising questions about how he himself may campaign if he chooses to seek statewide office next year.
Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana’s at-large congressional seat, was charged with misdemeanor assault this morning by county police for his actions at a campaign event yesterday when he bodyslammed a reporter for The Guardian. When pressed for an answer about yesterday’s CBO score for the Republican health care overhaul, Gianforte “grabbed [the reporter] by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” yelling “I’m sick and tired of you guys… get the hell out of here.” Gianforte’s actions have been corroborated by numerous sources, including reporters for Fox News and Buzzfeed.
Asked about the incident this morning, however, Congressman Messer failed to condemn the candidate’s actions, instead telling an AP reporter, “I’m not sure whether it will hurt him or help him.”
“On the campaign trail and in front of witnesses, a Republican candidate screamed at and physically assaulted a reporter who simply wanted to ask a question about something the candidate may have to vote on if elected—and Congressman Messer thinks that might be beneficial?,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “If that’s how Congressman Messer is thinking about campaigning, Hoosiers ought to be worried not just about whether he’ll be transparent with voters, but whether he might throw them to the ground as well.”