The verified Twitter account for the Mitch McConnell campaign tweeted a photo of tombstones bearing the names of his political opponents hours after the deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
The tweet, which was posted just hours after the shooting, depicted several tombstones with names like “Merrick Garland” (President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee whom McConnell successfully blocked), “Alison Lundergan Grimes” (who challenged McConnell in the 2014 Senate race) and “Amy McGrath” (McConnell’s most high-profile challenger in 2020).
“The Grim Reaper of Socialism at #FancyFarm today,” the McConnell campaign account tweeted, in reference to an annual political picnic in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. As of this writing, the tweet is still up.
McGrath’s campaign pointed out that the photo of the tombstones was “proudly tweeted” just hours after the mass shooting in El Paso.
“I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging,” McGrath tweeted.
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) August 3, 2019
Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo. I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it's appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging. pic.twitter.com/2x5kO5jwPi
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) August 5, 2019
McConnell has embraced the “grim reaper” nickname before, saying he would be the “grim reaper” of any and all progressive legislation if he remains Senate Majority Leader after the 2020 election. As the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, McConnell has adamantly refused to even bring legislation to the Senate floor for a full vote for everything from expanding voting rights, to addressing gun violence, to making elections more secure. Some of the election security bills McConnell is blocking have been passed out of Republican-controlled committees.
The El Paso shooting was deeply political in nature, as the gunman wrote a manifesto denouncing “the Hispanic invasion of Texas” before walking into a Walmart and opening fire on shoppers. The shooting may have been inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric calling Hispanic immigration to the U.S. “an invasion of our country,” and former Congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) recently urged reporters to “connect the dots” between Trump’s rhetoric and the wave of white supremacist violence sweeping the country.
Both Trump and McConnell used their verified accounts to condemn the El Paso shooting and mourn the victims. However, the hashtag #MassacreMitch was trending on Monday, with people calling on the Kentucky senator to re-convene the Senate from the August recess to pass gun reform legislation.
On Monday, Trump made a speech in which he called for linking gun reform legislation to new immigration restrictions as a means of stopping mass shootings, even though the El Paso shooter was a white male U.S. citizen who drove nine hours out of his way to target Hispanics. The president also referred to Dayton, Ohio — in which another shooter used an assault weapon to kill nine people in the city’s entertainment district — as “Toledo” toward the end of the speech. Toledo is roughly 150 miles from Dayton.
(Grit Post‘s editorial policy is to not publish the names or likenesses of mass shooters and domestic terrorists, in order to deny them the notoriety they often seek. We encourage all other outlets to do the same.)
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.