The photo shows five mock gravestones erected in a patch of grass, flanked by two “Team Mitch” signs. One reads “R.I.P Amy McGrath, November 3rd, 2020,” a reference to the date of the 2020 general election. Another reads “R.I.P. Alison Lundergan Grimes, November 4th, 2014,” a reference to the Democratic challenger defeated by McConnell that year.
The other gravestones reference socialism, the Green New Deal and Merrick Garland, who was then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and whose nomination McConnell refused to bring to the Senate floor for a vote in 2016.
“The Grim Reaper of Socialism at #FancyFarm today,” McConnell’s campaign tweeted, along with a photo of the majority leader at the annual picnic in Kentucky. McConnell has frequently referred to himself as the “grim reaper” of the Senate, and Democrats have described the chamber under his leadership as a legislative graveyard.
“Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo,” Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and combat pilot, tweeted Monday. “I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging.”
Also criticizing McConnell was former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who retired from Congress after being shot at a campaign event in January 2011.
“I am appalled that in this divisive political climate — a climate where gun violence fueled by hate is on the rise — Mitch McConnell is joking about the death of his current and former opponents and a federal judge,” Giffords said in a statement. “The nation is turning to Leader McConnell right now for leadership, and this is the furthest thing from it. Leader McConnell must apologize to Amy McGrath, Merrick Garland, and Alison Lundergan Grimes.”
McConnell’s campaign said that the photo was of a display built by supporters and that it was based on a newspaper cartoon.
“Our supporters built an homage to the Courier Journal cartoon at Fancy Farm and we posted their work,” McConnell’s campaign manager, Kevin Golden, said in a statement. “Amy McGrath has tweeted this very cartoon several times and it’s shameful that she’s pretending not to know exactly what it is referencing in order to politicize a tragedy.”
In July, McConnell’s campaign tweeted an image of the cartoon, which includes gravestones reading “RIP Health Care” and “RIP Coal Miners,” among others, in addition to the ones bearing the names of his political challengers.
“Although I profoundly disagree with a few of these grave stones, this might be my all-time favorite cartoon of the over 600 in my career,” the tweet quotes McConnell as saying.
McGrath retweeted the McConnell campaign’s tweet, taking aim at his record on black lung disease and accusing him of “laughing about the destructive effects of his failures.”