CNN anchor Jake Tapper reportedly encouraged Army Ranger veteran Sean Parnell to run in a “safer” district rather than mount a challenge against Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb.
A source close to the Parnell campaign said that Tapper, a Pennsylvania native, had reached out and encouraged him to primary another Republican instead of running in the 17th Congressional District, according to a Breitbart story that broke several days earlier. (RELATED: ‘United, We Were Unbeatable’: Sean Parnell Reaches Across The Aisle To ‘Disillusioned’ Democrats)
GOP‘s House Campaign Arm: CNN‘s Jake Tapper ‘Meddling‘ in ‘Swing House Races‘ https://t.co/5OERHYrpFL
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) September 7, 2020
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 7, 2020
But on Thursday, Fox News obtained screenshots of a direct message from Tapper seemingly explaining that he had only meant to encourage Parnell to run “in a safer R district” — where he would have run a primary against a sitting Republican — rather than going after Lamb’s seat.
“And best of luck in your race. For the record, I wasn’t trying to talk you out of running — I was trying to talk you into running in a safer R district! Lol,” the message from Tapper read.
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) September 10, 2020
According to PoliticsPA.com’s July rankings, Lamb — a Marine veteran who won his seat in a usually-Republican district in 2018’s special election — is considered the fourth most vulnerable congressman on the state. Parnell outraised Lamb in the second quarter, with $717,000 compared to Lamb’s $441,000.
Tapper’s ties to Pennsylvania politics run deep as well — before breaking into the national media scene, he served as campaign press secretary for Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who represented Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District for one term.