The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, was quick to extend best wishes to the husband of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, who was violently attacked early Friday morning by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home.
“Wishing a full recovery for Paul from this absolutely horrific violent attack,” tweeted Stefanik.
It’s a departure from her norm. On any given week, Stefanik’s twitter account is a fount of racist conspiracy theories demonizing immigrants, people of color, and Democrats.
Last year, Stefanik’s social media ads accused “radical Democrats” of plotting “their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”
“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” claimed the ad, funded by Stefanik’s campaign committee.
In a tweet earlier this year, Stefanik referred to the White House and House Democrats as “pedo grifters,” invoking an apparent abbreviation for pedophile—an obsession among QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Democrats run a Satanic child sex-trafficking ring.
So Stefanik’s awkward dance with graciousness in the wake of the savage attack on Paul Pelosi looks to be more of a political tell than heartfelt sentiment. It was accompanied by similar out-of-character pronouncements from other GOP leaders on the Hill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s spokesperson, Mark Bednar, said McCarthy had “reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he’s praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: “Horrified and disgusted by the reports that Paul Pelosi was assaulted in his and Speaker Pelosi’s home last night. Grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery.”
With some notable exceptions, Republican leaders have generally responded appropriately to the tragedy the Pelosi family is enduring, which in these fractious times begs the question: Why?
Because a racist, misogynist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist just broke into the home of one of the most well-known Democrats in the nation yelling, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?”
It’s unclear if the assailant, David DePape, who years ago listed himself in voting records as a member of the Green Party, officially identifies as a Republican or with the Republican Party. But he appears to be a case study in online radicalization. His Facebook page reportedly included links to multiple videos produced by My Pillow guy Mike Lindell falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen. The attack was also eerily reminiscent of the seditionists on Jan. 6 roaming the Capitol hallways, calling out, “Nancy, oh, Nancy,” and, “Where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you.”
It’s too early to know exactly what will come to light regarding Depape, but an incident like this is Republicans’ worst nightmare in terms of the female suburban voters they are trying to woo back into their corner this cycle.
The last thing Republicans want is some QAnon loon reminding suburban moms what a danger the GOP is to civility across the country, particularly when Republicans premised much of their closing argument on being the party that can tackle crime and keep people safe.
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