The supporters of two of the contenders for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives are accusing each other of taking things out of context in a search for top headlines.
The Montana Republican Party issued a release Thursday saying the national Democratic party has thrown in the towel on Democratic candidate Dennis McDonald, while McDonald and the state Democratic Party are asking Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., to apologize for, or at least explain, a comment he made about gun control in regards to President Barack Obama.
The Ravalli Republic reported Thursday that while touring a machine shop which makes products that include firearm accessories, Rehberg told the business’ owners, “If Obama is president, maybe you need to spend more time developing a gun lock, a trigger lock.”
McDonald issued a release Thursday accusing Rehberg of joking about Obama being in danger of assassination.
“These kinds of comments are both irresponsible and below the standard which citizens should expect of their elected leaders,” McDonald said in the release. “Congressman Rehberg has embarrassed Montana once again. In making this comment, the Congressman displays a mindset that should be repugnant to all citizens.
“A cow pie has more intellect than what Congressman Rehberg has once again displayed,” McDonald added.
The state Democratic Party issued a release asking Rehberg to clarify his comment.
“If Rehberg wasn’t referring to people shooting Obama, then what was he talking about?” said Democratic Party spokesman Martin Kidston. “If he was referring to trigger locks or a ban on guns, then where’s the plan? Who’s talking about trigger locks and gun bans, because it’s news to us.”
But the Republicans are saying that interpretation is taking the entire conversation — a reply Rehberg made to one of the owners of the shop about what will happen with gun control — out of context.
“Once again Dennis McDonald isn’t telling the truth,” said Evan Wilson, Rehberg’s campaign manager. “As has been widely reported, Denny made no reference to the president’s life being in danger.
“The only apology that’s in order is the one Dennis McDonald owes to Montanans for supporting ObamaCare, the billion dollar bailouts and the failed so-called stimulus plan,” Wilson added.
Rehberg said in a statement that his comment was about Obama’s support for gun control — that making trigger locks might be a profitable move. Obama has a history dating back to his days in the Illinois Legislature of supporting gun control such as trigger locks, he said.
“In fact, he voted for trigger locks when he was in the U.S. Senate and his most recent Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan, made a name for herself in the Clinton years as a champion of federal requirements for trigger locks,” Rehberg added. “Which is exactly why I, in all seriousness, advised a gun parts manufacturer in Montana that trigger locks may be a growth industry for their business if the president and his allies get their way.”
On the other side, the state Republicans issued a release Thursday citing a map highlighting targeted races. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s lack of focus on Montana is proof the national party leaders have given up on McDonald’s campaign, the release said.
Will Deschamps, chair of the state Republican Party, cited McDonald’s representing mafioso Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno when he testified as a witness during a series of mob trials in the 1970s.
“It seems Dennis McDonald’s former allies inside the beltway have finally figured out what voters in Big Sky Country have known all along — a San Francisco trial lawyer with mob ties is the wrong choice for Montana,” Deschamps said in the release. “At this point, one has to wonder whether Dennis McDonald is the only person in this state who still thinks he has a chance in November.”
Kidston accused the Republicans of trying to “trick” reporters into writing a story based on the release. The Democratic Party is working every day to get McDonald elected, and fully stands behind and supports his campaign, Kidston said.
“With that said, we believe that with Rehberg's anti-Montana voting record, his allegiance to the Tea Party and its extremist views, and his lobbyist friends in Washington, D.C., that Montanans want a new congressman representing them in Washington,” Kidston said. “No one is talking about throwing in the towel.”