Republican congressional candidates across the country have been in a full-on panic for weeks now as many of them fear being taken down in a potential Hillary Clinton landslide. One of those candidates, whose seat suddenly no longer looks safe is Arizona Senator John McCain. A recent PPP poll has McCain tied with his Democratic opponent, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick. So the GOP is going on the attack against the Democrat, as you would expect. But the way they are doing it in one new ad has some people upset.
This week the state Republican party unveiled a new ad that resembles an old west “wanted” poster, with a picture of Kirkpatrick on it. The ad is intended to be a criticism of what the GOP believes is Kirkpatrick’s failure to hold enough public events during her campaign. But what really has some people outraged is the fact that the poster is covered with what are intended to look like bullet holes. That brings back memories of former representative Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 outside a grocery store in Casas Adobes. And it shows that once again, the GOP has no apparent sense of decorum or decency.
Many of the old west wanted posters prominently featured the words “Dead or Alive” at the top. This one merely says “Wanted.” But the bullet holes may send a different message to some.
In fairness, there are no bullet holes on Kirkpatrick’s photo in the ad. But there is one on the border of the picture, at about the position of her heart. The question for the people who created and approved the ad is this: “You had enough sense to not use ‘Dead or Alive.’ What made you think that putting bullet holes on the ad was a good idea?”
Giffords is one of the people who is not amused. In a joint statement released with her husband Mark Kelly, she said,
“In a state and country that know the toll of gun violence too well, there is no room for invoking the use of firearms in our politics.”
“Our political leaders have the responsibility to avoid a descent into messages that might suggest that elections are settled anywhere else than at the ballot box. We urge Arizonans of every political stripe to join us in asking the Arizona Republican Party to refrain from using this irresponsible imagery and to apologize.”
According to Arizona TV station KPNX, the “wanted” poster was delivered to Kirkpatrick’s campaign office in Tempe by a man named Kevin Kuk, who is operations chief for the state GOP. They say he left his business card with the poster.
Of course, Republicans are trying to deflect blame. Matt Specht, who is running the campaign against Kirkpatrick, responded to Giffords, saying,
“Nobody, including the hundreds of reporters who received the press release with the image, linked it to violence until the Kirkpatrick campaign tried to use it as a way to distract the media from Ann Kirkpatrick’s absence from the campaign trail.”
In old westerns, posters of this sort would sometimes be shown with bullet holes. And in Arizona, an “old west” state, it’s likely that is the imagery the GOP was going for. But in these days when gun violence is a daily occurrence in the U.S. and Donald Trump has made statements that have been questioned as potentially calling for violence from his supporters, you might think that somebody would have realized that maybe an ad like this wasn’t such a good idea.
Featured image via Think Progress/Arizona GOP