Capitol Alert

GOP hopeful has Trump’s ‘enemy of the people’ lines down – but not his endorsement

Republican Congressional candidate Tim Donnelly has adopted President Donald Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric when describing the media.
Republican Congressional candidate Tim Donnelly has adopted President Donald Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric when describing the media. Screenshot

California GOP Congressional candidate and former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly took to Twitter Wednesday to attack a favorite target — the media — using a phrase popularized by President Donald Trump.

The Wednesday post from Donnelly’s campaign Twitter account used the term “enemy of the people” in a tweet criticizing media coverage following an attempted knife attack on a fellow Republican candidate Sunday.

“The media is creating the environment for political violence,” the tweet reads. “They celebrate, make excuses for & blame black people for #Antifa violence AND call everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders a Nazi. They didn’t stop & reflect after Scalise was shot & they won’t now. #EnemyOfThePeople.”

Donnelly is running against Paul Cook, a three-term incumbent, in the November midterm election for California’s eighth Congressional district; though Donnelly is an outspoken Trump supporter, the president earlier this month tweeted that he was endorsing Cook for re-election.

“Paul has my total and complete Endorsement!” Trump tweeted on Sept. 4

The Desert Sun reports Donnelly said it was “the swamp” that led Trump to endorse Cook over him.

“He endorsed a guy, I believe, based on talking points handed to him by someone who didn’t have his best interests at heart,” Donnelly said, according to the Desert Sun. “President Trump is surrounded by the swamp, so some of his advisers don’t have his best interests at heart.”

Donnelly’s Wednesday tweet comes at a time of heightened hostility toward members of the media, hostility that turned deadly in June, when a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, and killed five people. The suspected shooter had a history of harassing the newspaper’s employees and making threatening remarks.

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Trump’s use of the term, and its adoption by many of his supporters, has drawn criticism from both the left and the right; outgoing Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Trump ally, penned an op-ed for TIME that lamented conservatives’ use of the term.

“We go too far when we call reporters ‘the enemy of the people’ in an effort to delegitimize the news establishment as a whole. One botched story doth not a media conspiracy make. While portraying the press as a bogeyman might score short-term political points, it does lasting damage to our democracy,” Hatch wrote in the column posted Tuesday.

According to an August Quinnipiac University poll, more than half of Republicans who responded said the media is the enemy of the people; only 26 percent of overall voters felt that way.

The poll showed 14 percent of Republicans were concerned that anti-media rhetoric would lead to violence against people who work in the industry; 76 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents polled were concerned, according to Quinnipiac.

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Donnelly is no stranger to bombastic statements and actions. He co-founded the California chapter of the Minutemen, militia that patrols the border with Mexico looking for undocumented immigrants, according to the Desert Sun.

In 2012, Donnelly pleaded no contest “to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

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And on his radio show, Donnelly referred to then-President Barack Obama as “Ayatollah Obama,” saying he “didn’t want to insult the (Islamic) faith that I believe he is secretly following, a follower, or he is simply sympathetic because they’re doing the dirty work,” according to CNN.

Asked about those remarks, CNN quoted Donnelly as saying, “I have spent my professional life fighting for the families of people slain by illegal aliens and Islamic jihadists. I went to build the wall a decade before it was a talking point for politicians like Paul Cook.”

A pro-Trump media crew was attacked by protesters at Donald Trump’s Walk of Fame star in Hollywood, California, on July 26, according to Elijah Schaeffer, the host of YouTube channel Slightly Offens*ve who shared this video of the incident.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler