I am sure that running for Congress is a stressful job. You’re pulled in all kinds of different directions. You’re often asked to answer for policies you may or may not have had anything to do with. Being able to handle the stress that is surely coming should be a prerequisite for any person considering a run for a House seat.
So what is the most sure-fire way to prove to the public that you do not have the wherewithal to handle stress like an adult? At the top of the list would have to be assaulting a reporter. That is exactly what the Republican candidate for a hotly contested special House election in Montana, Greg Gianforte, did yesterday.
Here’s what went down according to the New York Times:
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, said the episode occurred during an interview at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters. Jacobs said Gianforte “body-slammed” him when pressed on a question about the Republicans’ health care bill.
Members of a Fox News television crew witnessed the encounter, and in a firsthand account posted on the network’s website, one of the Fox journalists described Mr. Gianforte as “punching the reporter.”
“As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’” according to the Fox News account.
Jacobs said Gianforte became agitated when asked about the Congressional Budget Office’s new fiscal assessment of the legislation that House Republicans have passed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Gianforte initially sidestepped the question, according to an audio recording of the episode Jacobs posted, suggesting the reporter speak with his spokesman. But when Jacobs persisted, the candidate lost his composure.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte can be heard saying on the recording shortly after the sounds of a physical struggle and a crash. “The last time you came here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here.”
Jacobs responded: “You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.”
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte said again. Jacobs said he would report the episode to the authorities and asked for the names of the other individuals in the room. Then the tape ends.
In a statement, Gianforte’s spokesman offered a strikingly different version of events.
“After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined,” said Shane Scanlon, Gianforte’s spokesman. “Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”
Gianforte is not heard on the recording requesting that Jacobs lower the recorder.
Another witness, BuzzFeed’s Alexis Levinson, said: “Ben walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte,” Levinson wrote on Twitter. “All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor.”
In a statement late Wednesday, the office of the Gallatin County sheriff, Brian Gootkin, said there was enough evidence to charge Gianforte with misdemeanor assault. Gianforte is scheduled to appear in court before June 7.
Psychopathy is a hot trend among Republican officials these days but this a brand new level of crazy. Gianforte’s body-slam opens the door for the Democrats to take a seat in the House in a firmly Republican state. If that happens, it should scare Republicans who are up for re-election in swing districts in 2018.
However, we elected a president who openly admitted to sexually assaulting women on a regular basis a few weeks before the election. We live in a political world where nothing matters anymore.
The special election is on today and we’ll see if Montana voters are willing to elect such an unstable person to Congress. If they do, Gianforte may find it difficult to legislate from a Montana jail cell.