PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman said Thursday the left is to blame for the political atmosphere that led to a Montana candidate’s alleged assault of a reporter.
“I have said and stand by the notion that the left has created a polarization and kind of a violent, confrontational attitude for several months now in any sort of political gatherings of any kind,” U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.
Though Franks said candidate Greg Gianforte was in the wrong when he allegedly body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on Wednesday, he wonders what happened before the incident.
“Sometimes, when people react like this, and it is absolutely and clearly wrong for them to do so, but when they do, sometimes, it’s a reaction not to the moment but to some cumulative events over time,” Franks said.
The congressman said Gianforte made a mistake, but the current political climate is tough to deal with.
“I think that, probably, if the truth were known, that ultimately the Guardian reporter probably thinks he’s gained a tremendous advantage by creating this reaction by this candidate running for office,” Franks said.
“All the candidate did was fall into the trap of letting his emotions overcome his good judgment and it really doesn’t speak well of him.”
Franks said he has been physically confronted by people on the left. He cited one example from President Donald Trump’s inauguration in particular.
“I couldn’t walk into the street without them jumping in front of me and trying to bump into me and push me back,” he said. “It was a physical thing.”
Franks also said it is difficult for people on the right side of the aisle to get information to the public, as the left seems to have a sort of stranglehold on information.
“The debate is not about the issues, it’s about who can scream the loudest,” he said.
Franks said the whole incident should serve as a warning that Americans need to take a deep breath and let their cooler heads prevail.
“It’s wise for us as a society to examine the modality and the way that we approach each other in general or these things do escalate,” he said.
However, Franks said if Gianforte is found guilty, he should face legal consequences and deserves the “disdain of his counterparts.”
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