Throughout the early stages of his campaign for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State John Kerry’s open U.S. Senate seat, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan has enjoyed the strong support of Plymouth County, Massachusetts Sheriff Joe McDonald (R). After McDonald “joked” that the nation would be better off if President Obama were assassinated at a Republican Party St. Patrick’s Day breakfast Sunday — at which Sullivan also spoke — the Senate hopeful is standing by his enthusiastic supporter.
On the same day as Sullivan received the endorsement of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life PAC, his campaign manager dismissed McDonald’s repeated allusions to President Obama being killed. In a statement to ThinkProgress on behalf of the campaign, Sullivan’s manager attempted to minimize the comments by noting that unnamed people once made the same suggestions about Republican presidents:
The people of Plymouth County know Sheriff McDonald to be a fine man and a very hard-working, accomplished sheriff. Mike didn’t hear the joke but urges great care on such topics. Movies and books were written that fantasized about assassinating President George W. Bush, but hardly an eyebrow was raised. Mike, for his part, has spent much of his adult lifetime protecting life and speaking softly from his own heart. He’ll continue to do that throughout the campaign and continues to appreciate the service of Sheriff McDonald.
McDonald’s Facebook page contains numerous posts about his efforts on behalf of Sullivan. One invites voters to support the Senate hopeful at the Massachusetts GOP’s yacht club straw poll earlier this month, several request support for his ballot access signature drive, and two show pictures of a joint appearance at a local shopping mall.
McDonald, for his part, also continued to stand by his controversial attempt at humor Tuesday, telling a local TV station that since he never used the words “kill” or “assassinate,” he believes “A joke is a joke. And reasonable, intelligent people understand when a joke is a joke.” When asked if he’d tell the joke in the future, he indicated that he might — but that he didn’t “want to be known for only one joke.”