The Donald Trump campaign, even through one of its few surrogates, does not hold back.
In an on-air interview with Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday night, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson lashed out at a rival campaign and blamed Kansas City political consultant Jeff Roe for the suicide of Tom Schweich.
Schweich fatally shot himself last year. He was the Missouri auditor at the time and in the midst of what looked to be a brutal Republican primary. A radio ad, drafted and aired by Roe’s firm on behalf of GOP candidate Catherine Hanaway, suggested Schweich was a “bug” and likened him to bumbling TV character Barney Fife.
Days later, Schweich killed himself. His friends conceded that he had become increasingly unstable, but many cited the ad as part of what might have prompted the suicide.
That ignited a short-lived discussion in Missouri political circles about whether a more civil tone was needed for electioneering, and criticism of Roe and his long record of aggressive campaign tactics.
Roe’s stature, however, has only risen since. As manager of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, he saw his client score a surprise win in the Iowa caucuses and become one of the chief rivals to frontrunner Trump. Cruz even topped him in one poll this week.
Pierson appeared on Van Susteren’s “On The Record” show Wednesday, where she charged that a Cruz ad lied by implying, for instance, that Trump still supports abortion rights. Trump did in the past, but says he’s strongly anti-abortion now.
To buttress her point that Cruz is playing dirty, Pierson raised Roe’s role in the Texan’s campaign as evidence of underhanded politics.
“The campaign manager for Sen. Cruz has actually caused a candidate in Missouri to commit suicide over attack ads,” she said.
“Wait a minute. Whoa,” the host said. “Can we dial back on that for a minute on that one?”
“In the state of Missouri,” Pierson continued, “a lieutenant (sic) governor candidate committed suicide behind some of the attack ads. ... You shouldn’t have to deal with these smears.”