Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise reacted harshly on Friday to a newly resurfaced 2017 tweet in which Democratic Wisconsin Senate candidate Mandela Barnes accused the congressman of “vot[ing] against self interest” when he expressed his continued opposition to gun control after narrowly surviving a mass shooting.
Scalise was nearly killed by James Hodgkinson, a left-wing domestic terrorist, while practicing for the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game. The Louisiana Republican suffered internal bleeding and several broken bones. Scalise did not change his views on gun control in the aftermath of the shooting, saying it “fortified” his support for the right to bear arms. (RELATED: As Dems Angle To Deplatform Fox News, Rep. Scalise Reminds Them Baseball Shooter Was A Fan Of MSNBC)
“Taking one for the team. I question how people vote against self interest but this is next level. He literally almost died on this hill,” Barnes wrote in a quote tweet of article detailing Scalise’s position.
Taking one for the team. I question how people vote against self interest but this is next level. He literally almost died on this hill. https://t.co/Xx8ZQXuvzM
— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) October 4, 2017
“It says a lot more about his lack of character to be in essence condoning political violence. All of us should be standing up against political violence,” Scalise said. “To say something like that, [Barnes] really needs to look in the mirror and reevaluate his lack of character.”
Barnes refused to apologize, telling Punchbowl that his “comments came from a place of frustration with politicians like [Republican Wisconsin Sen.] Ron Johnson who see gun violence happen everyday and turn their backs on solutions that would keep people safe.”
“This is a very personal topic for me as someone who has experienced the pain of losing friends and loved ones to gun violence,” Barnes added.
Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, is polling around two points behind Johnson. Some in the party worry, however, that Barnes’ track record of far-left positions, including support for the Green New Deal and for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), could sink him in a race that Democrats consider one of their best Senate pickup opportunities.