After police charged him for assaulting a reporter late Wednesday, Montana Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte is being targeted with last-minute campaign ads that highlight the incident as evidence he is “unfit to serve” and has “no business being in Congress.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and liberal group MoveOn.org each created ads against Gianforte soon after news of the altercation broke Wednesday evening. The ads, running as voters head to the polls in Thursday’s special election to fill Montana’s lone House seat, feature the direct audio recording of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs’ violent interaction with Gianforte.
After Jacobs tried to ask him a question about the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill, Gianforte reportedly “body slammed” Jacobs and broke his glasses. Fox News reporters who witnessed the altercation backed up Jacobs’ account.
On Wednesday night, police charged Gianforte with assault.
“Charged with a crime. No business being in Congress,” says the DCCC ad. The DCCC also demanded that Gianforte “immediately withdraw” from the race.
MoveOn.org’s ad calls Gianforte “unfit to serve.”
Gianforte told Jacobs he was exasperated with reporters’ questions.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” he said, according to Jacobs’ audio.
Yet taking questions from reporters is a basic requirement for elected officials.
On Thursday afternoon, just hours before polls in Montana were set to close, the DCCC released a radio ad.
“If Greg Gianforte could be sentenced to jail, should he really be elected to Congress?” the ad says.
It is unclear whether the incident will upend the already highly anticipated race between Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist. Many residents have already cast their votes because Montana has mail-in voting. But the state also has same-day registration, so the assault case could attract to the polls some Montanans who were going to skip voting.
The seat was vacated by Republican Ryan Zinke, who after easily winning re-election last November was picked by President Donald Trump to be the Interior Department secretary. The race to replace him has been closer than expected, with polls showing Quist within single digits of Gianforte despite Montana’s GOP tilt. The race has drawn national attention from both parties, amid Trump’s mounting scandals, GOP unpopularity and a groundswell of Democratic activism.
Watch both video ads above.
This article has been updated to note the release of a radio ad Thursday afternoon.