Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the far-right Congress member vying for Jeff Sessions’s former Senate seat, managed to take a stand for gun rights, lash out at Bernie Sanders, condemn the “liberal media,” and paint himself as a lifesaving hero — all in one 30-second TV ad.
The ad opens with audio from the congressional baseball practice shooting in mid-June when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers, seriously injuring Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and hitting four others. It’s titled “Second Amendment,” and it has a simple message: Vote for Brook, and he will defend the right to bear arms.
“June 14: A Bernie Sanders supporter fires on Republican Congressmen,” the screen reads. “Mo Brooks gives his belt as a tourniquet to help the wounded.”
“What’s the liberal media immediately ask?”
The spot turns to a video of Brooks on the scene of the shooting talking to a group of reporters, one of whom asks him whether the incident has at all shaped his opinion on gun control.
“I’m not changing my opinion on any of the rights we enjoy as Americans,” Brooks said, as patriotic music builds in the background.
The shocking ad made Scalise’s chief of staff Brett Horton’s “stomach turn,” Horton tweeted Monday. Scalise, who was shot in the hip, is still in the hospital and has been fluctuating between “serious” and “fair” condition for more than a month.
The day of the shooting, while waiting at the hospital, I avoided the news/audio/video as much as possible. This makes my stomach turn.— Brett Horton (@bretthhorton) July 24, 2017
But Brooks doesn’t shy away from controversy.
He was the guy who said healthy people deserved cheaper health insurance because they had “done things the right way.” He blamed immigrants for an outbreak of measles in 2015.
But emotions are still running high on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the shooting. Leaders of both parties took the incident as an opportunity to reflect on the era of extreme partisanship — House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasized bipartisan unity and highlighted lawmakers from across the aisle for their support and prayers for Republican colleagues.
Brooks, however, seems to be using the tragedy to invoke more party allegiance, digging further into the heightened divisions in American politics today: a debate over gun violence, a rapidly declining trust in the media — escalated by the president — and an extremely bitter presidential election that has left Democrats searching for direction.
Alabama’s special election primaries are on August 15. Brooks, among a long list of Republican candidates, is running against incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed by former scandal-ridden Gov. Robert Bentley and has the backing of establishment Republicans. The GOP primary is expected to go to a runoff election in September.