Greg Gianforte should not represent Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Republican candidate for Congress not only lost the endorsement of this newspaper Wednesday night when, according to witnesses, he put his hands around the throat of a reporter asking him about his health care stance, threw him to the ground and punched him — he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.
Three weeks ago, the Missoulian endorsed Gianforte because we took him at his word that he would set aside his personal beliefs, listen to Montanans and be their voice in the House.
Our editorial said Gianforte “has the education, experience, brains and abilities to be successful in Congress. But only if he holds firm to his promise to set aside his own personal ideology whenever necessary in order to uphold Montana values.
“… Gianforte repeatedly assured the Missoulian editorial board that he can and will do just that. The people of Montana must hold him to that pledge.’’
Gianforte violated that pledge when he attacked a reporter for doing his job Wednesday night. As readers of the Missoulian know, Gianforte had repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would support the House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because he wanted to wait for the Congressional Budget Office to assess its impact.
Wednesday afternoon, the CBO issued its report, showing that millions of people across the United States — and thousands here in Montana — would lose health care coverage under the GOP plan.
A reporter for the Guardian newspaper, a respected British publication with a broad following in the United States, walked into a room in Bozeman where Fox News was setting up for an interview and asked the candidate what he thought of the budget office report, noting that Gianforte had said he was waiting for those numbers.
An audiotape of the encounter shows the question was followed by a loud crash that a Fox News reporter who was in the room said was caused when Gianforte put both hands around the throat of the reporter, threw him to the ground and then began punching him.
The Gallatin County sheriff’s office found probable cause to cite Gianforte for misdemeanor assault Wednesday night. We will leave it to the legal system to determine his guilt or innocence.
But there is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office.
And in case critics say this is just fake news from the liberal media, let us repeat one fact again: The eyewitness account of Gianforte’s actions came from a Fox News reporter.
We hope our fellow Montanans who haven’t already cast their ballots will say loud and clear at the polls Thursday that Greg Gianforte is not the man we want representing us in Washington. He does not represent Montana values and he should not represent us in Congress.
We’re putting our trust in your good sense.