GOP lawmakers say little about Montana candidate

A still image taken from video shows Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte speaking to voters while campaigning for a special election in Missoula, Montana, U.S. May 24, 2017.

The sheriff of a Montana county where Republican candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly assaulted a reporter said Thursday that Gianforte declined law enforcement's request for a follow-up interview. The polls will close at 10 p.m.

Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after Ben Jacobs, a political correspondent for the USA edition of the Guardian newspaper, said the candidate "body-slammed" him during a campaign event in Bozeman. But even if Gianforte wins, Republicans will face a major decision on whether or not to seat him.

New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance argued that the press should be treated with respect, adding, "I, of course, hope that the Republican is successful today because I think that his views are the views of the people of Montana".

Though Ryan said he believes Gianforte should apologize for the altercation, he did not indicate in any way that Gianforte should be rejected or that he should refuse to accept the position if he is victorious in today's election. But part of the job representing the people of Montana is answering basic questions on important topics, topics such as how a risky healthcare plan could impact the very people you are trying to represent.

In the wake of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte's alleged assault of a reporter Wednesday, all three of the state's largest newspapers have withdrawn their endorsements of him. According to the story, the crew saw Gianforte slam the reporter to the ground and "watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter".

In an audio recording released by the Guardian, the two can be heard arguing, right before Jacobs proclaims, "You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses!" "Get the hell out of here".

"I still have an election to report on in 12 hours, so that's the first priority", Jacobs said on ABC.

Trump won Montana by over 20 points in 2016, and while Gianforte was expected to win easily, polls have the lead tightening as Democrats look to make the race a referendum on Trump's recent controversies in Washington and the GOP health care bill. In 2014, 225,136 Montanans voted absentee in the midterms total.

In Jacobs' audio tape of the incident, Gianforte is heard shouting: "I'm sick and exhausted of you guys".

It's unclear whether the incident will seriously affect the election for the House of Representatives seat vacated earlier this year by current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. A longtime political reporter, Jacobs had earlier written about Gianfore's alleged financial ties - another one! - to Russian Federation.

The maximum penalty if convicted of the assault charge is a $500 fine and 6 months in jail.

Three of Montana's biggest newspapers pulled their endorsements of Gianforte but did not endorse his opponents.

At a diner in Helena, Montana, some customers expressed dismay over the incident.

"The door to the room was about half open, so I couldn't see the whole thing", she said.

According to an audio recording of the incident, the IT tycoon was approached by Ben Jacobs, a journalist with the Guardian, and asked to comment on the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of the health-care reform recently passed by House Republicans.

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