The political discourse has become nastier in recent years, most people would agree. And in Montana this week, it got nastier still when Republican Congressional Candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly “body slammed” reporter Ben Jacobs of the UK’s Guardian for pressing the candidate during an interview on healthcare issues.
The Democrats wasted no time leveraging the episode in a political ad that broke this morning, the day that voters go to the polls in Montana to decide the election.
Gianforte, who was charged with assault on Wednesday, is running against Democrat Rob Quist.
The ad, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, opens with a black-and-red background and bold white graphics that read: “Must Listen. Greg Gianforte Violently Assaults Reporter. Turn Up Your Volume.”
In the audio, Jacobs, who was recording the interview, is heard asking Gianforte his healthcare related question. “We’ll talk to you about that later,” responds the candidate. Jacobs continues to press. Gianforte then tells Jacobs to speak to his press rep. Jacobs begins to respond and then a loud scuffle can be heard and the ad’s graphic continues: “This is the sound of Republican Candidate Greg Gianforte Violently Assaulting A Journalist. The Election Is Right Now. Go. Vote. Against. Him. Vote For Rob Quist.”
It’ll interesting to see what impact the ad has, if any.
Up until the alleged assault, Gianforte was said to have had a slight lead in the polls, in what is considered a predominately red state. It’s been years since a Democrat was elected to Congress from there and Donald Trump easily won the state in last year’s presidential election. That said, Montanans aren’t necessarily knee-jerk Republicans—last year they re-elected Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. His Republican opponent? Greg Gianforte.
Update: Apparently the ad didn't have much of an affect, at least not one the Democrats were hoping for. News outlets, citing Edison Research, have declared Gianforte the winner with more than 50% of the vote and a roughly 7 percentage point lead over Rob Quist.