The Question Greg Gianforte Wouldn’t Answer Is the One That Could Bring Him Down

If not now, then next year.

 

In the aftermath of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, one thing has gotten lost: Gianforte never actually answered the question Jacobs asked. And he still hasn’t.

The question was quite simple. Gianforte had previously stated that he wanted to see the Congressional Budget Office score before saying whether he would have voted for the Affordable Health Care Act, the Obamacare repeal effort that passed the House on May 4. Late Wednesday afternoon, on the eve of Thursday’s special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the CBO released its report, finding that the bill would leave an additional 23 million Americans without health insurance by 2026 and cause the cost of insurance to soar for some populations, in particular for people suffering from drug abuse. Now that the score was out, Jacobs asked Gianforte what he thought.

The rest, as they say, is a law enforcement matter.

Contrast Gianforte’s response to legislation passed by the chamber he’s hoping to join with that of his Democratic opponent, country music singer Rob Quist. Quist was upfront about his support for single-payer health care from the beginning, and Montana Democrats pushed digital ads targeting voters who might lose health insurance under the Republican proposal. His closing television ad highlighted his own medical issues (a botched gallbladder surgery), noted that half of the state’s residents also have pre-existing conditions, and hammered Gianforte for saying he was “thankful” for the bill in a secretly recorded conference call with health care lobbyists:

In this respect, the race is a useful barometer for how both parties view what may be the singular policy accomplishment of the Trump era, if it manages to become law. Democrats such as Quist, even in Republican-leaning districts—maybe even especially in Republican-leaning districts—are bullish not just about the toxicity of AHCA and its deadly implications, but about the prospect of a more robust universal-care scheme rising out of its ashes. Gianforte evidently considered misdemeanor assault preferable to a stated position on the law; Quist talks about it every chance he gets, and he even brought the nation’s leading proponent of Medicare-for-All, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to campaign with him in four cities on the closing weekend of the race.

With roughly two-thirds of the state’s expected votes already cast before both the final CBO score and his violent explosion, Gianforte may have been able to run out the clock on the most pressing domestic policy issue in Washington. But most Republicans in his shoes next year—and Gianforte himself, if he’s up for reelection in 2018—won’t have that chance.

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate