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Republicans lose hope for win in Montana after assault on reporter

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte

US Republicans have lost hope to win Montana’s congressional race after the Republican candidate allegedly "bodyslammed" a Guardian reporter on the eve of the election.

Greg Gianforte attacked reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event in Bozeman, Montana, on Wednesday evening, one day before voters go to the polls to fill the seat vacated in March by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”

He has been charged with assault over the incident.  

The violence took place after Jacobs asked Gianforte at his office about the Republicans’ healthcare plan.

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said. “I think he wailed on me once or twice ... He got on me and I think he hit me ... This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ ... To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” Alicia Acuna said confirming Jacobs' account of the incident.

This has improved chances of rival Democratic candidate Rob Quist winning the vote. This is while Montana traditionally favors Republicans over Democrats. 

Democratic US Congressional candidate Rob Quist (L) and US Senator Bernie Sanders (R) greet supporters during a campaign rally on May 20, 2017 in Butte, Montana. (Photo by AFP)

“We are literally in a dog fight right now,” said a Montana Republican familiar with the race before the confrontation. “I think it is essentially a toss-up.”

“It’s really tightening up. The nationalization of the race contributed to a lot of that.”

Gianforte, a millionaire tech entrepreneur, seemed to be the clear front-runner after nominating conventions in March.  He mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2016.

His alignment with the White House is a strategy to win over his rival.

However, Quist who is more known as a folk musician and political newcomer took the chance to run for the position and Democrats started investing last month.

Unlike Donald Trump, Quist supports a single-payer healthcare system, but he criticizes international trade deals, as does the Republican president. 

Gianforte has been endorsed by Trump and his Vice-President Mike Pence.

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