There’s a cut to a video interview with Brooks, where an unnamed reporter asks whether the shooting has changed his thinking on guns, and over swelling string music Brooks explains that the Second Amendment was written “to help ensure that we always have a republic.”
Brooks is challenging Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the Aug. 15 primary. Strange holds the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general. Brett Horton, Scalise’s chief of staff, said on Twitter that audio of the shooting made his “stomach turn,” while Chris Bond, Scalise’s spokesman, suggested that the use of the footage was ill-advised.
“I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate, don’t they,” said Bond in an email.
Brooks is the first candidate to run an ad about the shooting through his own campaign. In June, however, the little-known Principled PAC made an attention-grabbing spot that attempted to link the shooting of Scalise, carried out by a man who had supported left-wing candidates for office, to Georgia’s 6th District Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. “Now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans,” said a narrator, tying the shooting to a (still-unsolved) threat letter sent to now-Rep. Karen Handel, Ossoff’s GOP opponent.
The PAC made a late buy for its spot, spending less than $20,000 on Facebook ads. But the general theme of this and the Brooks spot, that Democrats have lapsed into insanity in opposing the Trump presidency, is increasingly appearing in Republican campaigns. At Saturday’s gubernatorial debate in Virginia, Republican nominee Ed Gillespie insisted that the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, would be unable to deliver for the state.
“He calls his campaign the Resistance, Resistance 2017,” Gillespie said, arguing that Northam would not be able to work with the president. “What are you going to do as our governor? Call the White House and say, ‘Please put me through to the narcissistic maniac’?”
Several other Republican campaigns have embraced an argument that opposition to the president is irrational and tied to a dangerous agenda. Brooks, who has been attacked by a Republican super PAC for having criticized Trump in 2016, is the first candidate to directly tie the left to political violence. But a new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP’s main super PAC, attacks the Democrats’ “Better Deal” rebrand with footage of black bloc anarchist protesters smashing windows.