A GOP candidate for governor in Pennsylvania has taken down a widely criticized video in which he tells his opponent, incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (D) that he plans to “stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” explaining that he was only speaking metaphorically.
“I shouldn’t have said what I said,” gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner said in a video statement posted to his Twitter account on Friday afternoon.
“I’m very passionate,” Wagner went on to add. “Don’t confuse anger with passion.”
I've taken down the video I made earlier today. Here's why:https://t.co/h67652zjc5
— Scott R. Wagner (@realScottWagner) October 12, 2018
Wagner posted the incendiary video to his campaign’s Facebook page earlier on Friday, amid escalating tension between the two candidates in the final weeks before the November 6 elections.
Wolf and Wagner have recently clashed over whether to schedule additional debates before voters head to the polls.
“Well, Governor Wolf, let me tell you what, between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face, because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” Wagner said in the original video. “Because I’m going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania. And we’re throwing you out of office.”
Wagner has a history of making violent comments. He’s previously said the Republicans in the state Senate will start getting things done because he will be “sitting in the back room with a baseball bat.”
This isn’t the first time he’s talked about physically dominating Wolf, either. “We had him down on the floor with our foot on his throat and we let him up. Next time, we won’t let him up,” he said in reference to Wolf in 2016.
A spokesperson for Wagner told PennLive that the candidate did not intend for his “golf spike” comments to be taken literally. “He wanted them to be a metaphor for how he will approach the final stretch of the campaign,” spokesperson Andrew Romeo said.
Downplaying violent threats or offensive comments by claiming they aren’t intended to be taken literally is also a frequent tactic of the president’s.
“Don’t take him literally, take him symbolically,” short-lived White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci infamously instructed the media in reference to Trump. On the campaign trail, when Trump’s extreme or violent statements have generated pushback, Trump and his associates have downplayed them as mere “jokes.”
Wagner’s extreme rhetoric about immigrants and Muslims has also earned him some comparisons to Trump.
The gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania isn’t expected to be a close race. Wolf currently has a double-digit lead in the polls over Wagner.