Paul Ryan was hesitant to pile on Montana Congressional hopeful Greg Gianforte, who has been accused of body slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on Wednesday after a question about healthcare reform. In remarks reported by The Hill, Ryan spoke carefully regarding the GOP candidate’s behavior and what impact it might have on his race against Democrat Rob Quist.
The House Speaker told reporters with a heavy sigh that physical altercations are inappropriate in general, but stopped short of taking a stronger stance or expressing the broader views of the Republican Party. “There is no time where a physical altercation should occur with the press or just between human beings. So that is wrong and that should not have happened,” opened Ryan. “I think he should apologize.”
However, Ryan was also quick to point out that Gianforte may have “his own version” of events, despite witnesses from Fox News corroborating the charges of misdemeanor assault that will be addressed at Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7.
Ryan did not call for the candidate’s resignation or speak on behalf of the GOP. Instead, he left it up to Montana voters whether Gianforte is deserving of a congressional seat. “That’s not our choice,” Ryan said. “That’s the people of Montana who choose that.”
The Speaker’s reticence to strongly condemn Gianforte may have something to do with the support he’s received from some Republicans. The Hill also reports that Representative Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) called the incident “totally out of character,” and noted that “we all make mistakes.”
Ryan even seemed to echo Stiver’s remark that “we need to let the facts surrounding this incident unfold.” That could take longer than getting the results of today’s election.
(Via The Hill)