House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday defended a now-deleted tweet that Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and George Soros were trying to “buy” November’s midterm elections, arguing that the message had “nothing to do” with religion.
McCarthy sent the tweet in October and deleted it the next day. But the topic has been revived in recent days amid bipartisan criticism of freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) over tweets in which she suggested that a lobbying group was paying lawmakers to take pro-Israel stances.
Omar has since apologized; McCarthy was among those most strongly calling on Democratic leaders to rebuke her.
Asked by Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner about his October tweet, McCarthy responded, “Well, that had nothing to do about faith; that was about Republicans versus Democrats.”
“Michael Bloomberg put in $54 million into the campaign just in the last couple of weeks in 24 districts,” McCarthy said. “All I was pointing out was money that Republicans and Democrats were spending to defeat one another. . . . This had to do about party and a campaign.”
In the tweet, McCarthy had shared a video that criticized the trio for trying to “buy” the midterm elections through their support of Democrats. Soros and Bloomberg are Jewish, and Steyer’s late father was Jewish.
“We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA,” McCarthy said in the tweet, which was sent Oct. 23 and deleted the next day.
The tweet came during a week when prominent Democrats across the country — including Steyer and Soros — were being targeted by pipe bombs. It also came days before a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Asked Wednesday why McCarthy deleted the tweet if he believed there was nothing wrong with it, Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, pointed to a statement he issued in October.
“Understanding the particular sensitivity of the past 24 hours in the political climate today that has led to specific threats on both sides of the aisle, we will redouble our focus on our agenda of results,” Sparks said at the time.
As the debate over Omar’s tweets has raged, some Republicans, including President Trump and Vice President Pence, have called on the Minnesota Democrat to resign from Congress or at least be removed from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders issued a statement denouncing Omar’s use of “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters.” They have signaled they will not take any further steps to punish Omar.
Asked by CNN on Wednesday whether the lawmaker’s comments would continue to pose a problem for Democrats, Pelosi argued that Republicans “shouldn’t go down this path; they do not have clean hands.”
She later pointed to Republicans’ years-long silence on controversial remarks on race and immigration made by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was only recently rebuked by GOP leaders.
“A newcomer member of Congress has apologized for her remarks,” Pelosi told CNN’s Manu Raju. “It took them, what, 13 years to notice Steve King?”