Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is coming under fire for taking an image of his opponent’s name on a tombstone sign and sharing it online just hours after a pair of mass shootings that left close to 30 people dead.
The picture was taken from a campaign event in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, and called the Senate majority leader the “Grim Reaper of Socialism.” As The Hill noted, the event included a series of tombstone signs including one that read “R.I.P. Amy McGrath November 3, 2020.” Others marked the death of socialism and the Green New Deal, a sweeping plan proposed by Democrats to address climate change through massive investments in alternative energy.
Another tombstone displayed the name of Merrick Garland, a federal judge who had been nominated by Barack Obama to fill a Supreme Court vacancy during his final year in office. McConnell blocked the nomination through Obama’s term, saying he would not fill a vacancy during an election year.
The McConnell campaign drew criticism for the images, which were slammed as insensitive, especially in the wake of two mass shootings within a span of 13 hours on Saturday and early Sunday. McConnell’s opponent blasted the imagery in a tweet, saying it was troubling to see politics become so “nasty and personal.”
Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo. I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it's appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging. pic.twitter.com/2x5kO5jwPi— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) August 5, 2019
Mitch McConnell has become a target for criticism in the wake of this weekend’s shootings for his efforts to block bipartisan legislation addressing gun reform. On Sunday, the term “Massacre Mitch” reached the top of Twitter trends as people criticized the Senate majority leader for his statement backing police officers and offering prayers in the wake of the shootings, As USA Today reported, many expressed disgust at McConnell for offering what they saw as empty statements, given that he was preventing the Senate from voting on gun reform bills passed by the House of Representatives.
The bills included many that passed with bipartisan support, including one prohibiting person-to-person firearm sales at gun shows unless a background check could be conducted. Others sought to institute what is known as “red-flag” laws, allowing family members or law enforcement to limit a person’s access to firearms if they are deemed a potential threat, USA Today noted.
Donald Trump was also criticized in the wake of the mass shootings, with many critics saying his racially charged statements were leading to acts of extremism. The alleged gunman of the El Paso, Texas, massacre had reportedly posted a manifesto online echoing the president’s anti-immigrant stances.