GOP unsure what to say about candidates accused of domestic violence


Once in a while, headlines tell an amazing story. Yesterday, for example, The Washington Post published a headline that read, "NRSC chair Rick Scott declines to say if Trump-backed Senate hopeful accused of strangling wife is right candidate for the job." The article's lede further drove the point home:

Sen. Rick Scott, who heads the group that works to elect Senate Republicans, declined Monday to say whether Sean Parnell, a GOP hopeful in Pennsylvania who has been accused of strangling his wife and abusing his children, is the right candidate for the job.

As we discussed last week, the allegations against Parnell are clearly serious. His estranged wife testified under oath that the Republican candidate choked her, hit their young children, and was both physically and verbally abusive.

Parnell strenuously denied the claims, and as The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday, his lawyers sought to "raise doubts" about his estranged wife's claims during legal proceedings yesterday.

Nevertheless, the allegations have jolted Parnell's candidacy and put the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a position in which it's fielding questions about the suitability of his campaign. Scott, the NRSC's chairman, didn't seem at all eager to discuss the matter during his CNN appearance yesterday.

"We'll see who comes out of the primary," the senator said. "Facts will come out. We'll find out exactly what people think." Pressed on whether Parnell is the "right guy for this job," given the domestic-violence allegations, Scott added, "I'm not supporting or opposing people in primaries."

Left unsaid: Parnell, who enjoys Donald Trump's enthusiastic support, might very well win the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, at which point the NRSC and its chair will have to come up with a very different set of answers to these questions.

Indeed, though the party has done very little to acknowledge the circumstances, Parnell isn't the only Republican Senate hopeful facing domestic violence allegations. As we've discussed, Georgia's Herschel Walker, another Trump-backed candidate, has faced related claims: The Associated Press reported that his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, secured a protective order against Walker, alleging violent and controlling behavior.

According to Grossman's version of events, the former athlete pointed a pistol at her head and said, "I'm going to blow your f'ing brains out." When she filed for divorce, she cited "physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior."

Senate GOP leaders, including Mitch McConnell and John Thune, have nevertheless endorsed Walker without commenting on the domestic violence allegations.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens has also launched a U.S. Senate campaign, despite his many scandals, including an extramarital affair in which Greitens was accused of, among other things, blackmailing his former mistress following an encounter in which he taped her hands to pull-up rings in his basement.

Once the revelations came to light, the then-governor, left with little choice, resigned, but now he's launched a comeback effort, running for the Senate despite his personal background.

What we're left with is a tragic trifecta, featuring three competitive Senate candidates, each from the Republican Party, and each of whom has been accused of assaulting women.

"We'll see who comes out of the primary," Rick Scott said yesterday. It's a talking point with a short shelf life.