Gianforte Celebrates Victory, Apologizes For Assaulting Reporter

Republican Greg Gianforte beat Democrat Rob Quist in a special election for Montana's lone at-large House seat.

Gianforte showed lukewarm support for Mr Trump during his unsuccessful run for governor in Montana last autumn but did an about-face and turned into an ebullient Trump supporter after he started campaigning for the congressional seat vacated by Republican Ryan Zinke, when he was tapped by Mr Trump to serve as Interior Department secretary.

Just one night before the polls opened, Gianforte violently assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, who asked him about the House Obamacare repeal during an event in Bozeman. A technology entrepreneur who was widely regarded among even Republican strategists as an imperfect candidate, Gianforte could be heard on an audio tape yelling at the reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian.

The Fox News crew watched in astonishment as, after Jacobs pressed him on the GOP health care bill, "Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him", Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna wrote in an article. Montana newspapers pulled their endorsements of Gianforte, and the Gallatin County sheriff - himself a donor to Gianforte's campaign - charged him with misdemeanor assault.

Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault stemming from a scuffle in which the candidate allegedly "body slammed" Jacobs, who was asking a question.

Despite remaining silent Thursday as the incident rose to national attention, during his victory speech early Friday morning, Gianforte apologized for the incident, calling the attack a "mistake".

"I feel like, it's all just propaganda, you know what I mean, it's hard for me to believe anything the media tells me", said Nathaniel Trumper, who cast a vote for Gianforte at a polling station in Helena. "That's the Montana way". "Last night I made a mistake".

"I should not have responded the way I did, and for that I'm sorry", Gianforte said.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough used the physical assault of a reporter by Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to rip President Trump for his "thuggish behavior". Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte's wrist and both fell to the ground, Scanlon said.

Bullock, a Democrat who defeated Gianforte in the 2016 gubernatorial election, said the assault was unacceptable and a clear sign of the country's increasingly hostile political environment.

But a 45-second recording that Jacobs released does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone.

The altercation happened at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, on Wednesday.

"Yeah, I think he should apologize", U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told a regular news briefing. Screnar said she and her husband have known Gianforte for the better part of a decade.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock listens to a reporter's question at the governor's residence in Helena, Mont., on October 11, 2016. But it was too late to do any more advertising.

  • Zachary Reyes