Republican Senate candidate Sarah Steelman defended today a Tea Party activist’s call to “kill the Claire Bear” — a reference to Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-MO), whom Steelman is running against. Steelman has been under fire this week from Democrats for not denouncing the remark, which came at a Tea Party rally last week that Steelman attended.
“There was nothing violent about what he said…no one perceived it as a threat,” Steeleman told KZRG in Joplin. No one, that is, except for the FBI, which reportedly interviewed the activist who made the comment, Scott Boston, and the Capitol Police, which assigned McCaskill extra protection. Boston later said he did not intend the comment to be a threat.
Steelman, did say that the “kill” comment was a poor choice of words and “a bad joke,” but dismissed the controversy and defended Boston:
STEELMAN: Are we just we just going to abandon all common sense in this country and anytime anybody says anything, the government is just going to come down and send FBI agents to knock on your door? Are we going to have thought and speech police? […]
This is part of the problem in Washington…and people jump on somebody like Scott Boston, an individual, and they can put the whole force of the federal government on this guy.
The liberal research organization American Bridge recorded the interview:
Steeleman was at the rally with her son, who applauded Boston’s comment. Steelman’s Republican primary opponent John Brunner issued a strong rebuke of Boston’s comment, saying, “This type of rhetoric is unconscionable and I reject this kind of politics.” “Comments like these have no place in this U.S. Senate campaign, or any other campaign in this country, because they don’t represent American values,” the Republican said.