Karen Marshall told the Voices of Montana radio hosts last week that Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs “just pushed a little too hard” last spring when asking Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte questions on health care, according to The Hill.
“If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” said Marshall, the vice president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women.
She was responding to a question during an interview alongside John Heenan, a Democrat who hopes to vie for Gianforte’s seat in 2018.
At campaign headquarters the night before the Montana special election in May 2017, Gianforte “bodyslammed” the reporter, breaking his glasses. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. If it had been her, Marshall said on the radio show last week, Jacobs wouldn’t have been so lucky.
On Monday morning, Marshall’s name was no longer listed on the GCRW website as the programs VP, though the position was not noted as being vacant.
“That kid came on private property, came into a private building and went into a very private room that I would not even have gone into,” Marshall said on the show. “It was a set-up. A complete set-up. He just pushed a little too hard.”
Jacobs was among several reporters in the private room after the picnic event, and audio of the incident was quickly made public as Gianforte first accused Jacobs of instigating the assault.
The Helena Independent Record reported that Marshall hung up on a reporter Friday morning, saying “I don't really speak to reporters” before the line went dead. A spokesman for Gianforte said the the Montanan, who went on to win the special election, disagrees with Marshall’s remarks and is focused on representing his state in Washington, D.C.
Heenan, the Congress hopeful, also condemned Marshall’s comments later.
“The fact members of [Gianforte’s] party are sort of doubling down and wishing worse harm on Ben Jacobs really bothers me,” Heenan said in a press release. “There’s just no place in politics for this type of violent rhetoric. It’s not a partisan issue.”