26 May, 2017
"I do not think this is acceptable behavior, but the choice will be made by the people of Montana", Ryan said during a press conference.
And Gianforte may well win the election today, not just because Montana is a GOP-leaning state (though it now has a liberal Democratic governor, Scott Bullock), but because almost two-thirds of the likely electorate has already cast their ballots through early voting.
Private GOP polls showed a close race earlier this week, with Gianforte projected to have a slim, single-digit lead.
Gianforte, a millionaire tech entrepreneur who has aligned himself with President Donald Trump, said the reporter was being aggressive and grabbed him by the wrist at his campaign office.
Several politicians suggested that Gianforte may have even been justified in attacking a reporter.
Stivers said: "From what I know of Greg Gianforte, this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes".
Gianforte later apologized for the comment, but the threat was clear.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said there is "never" an instance where a physical altercation is appropriate. "Nowhere does it say, 'Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.' It doesn't say that anywhere".
"He's on top of me". Asked how well he knows Gianforte, Gootkin said, "Not well". "It's the strangest moment that's happened in my entire life reporting".
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On Wednesday night, Gianforte felt comfortable enough attacking Jacobs that he did so just a few feet away from a Fox News television crew, which was in the room preparing to interview him.
Gianforte's campaign issued a statement offering a starkly contrasting account.
Jacobs dismissed that version of events. "The last guy who came here did the same thing".
In a statement, Lee Glendinning, The Guardian's USA editor, said that the newspaper was "deeply appalled" and that "we stand by Ben".
The altercation occurred hours before voters went to the polls to decide whether Gianforte or Democrat Rob Quist will fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, a Republican who is now Trumps Interior secretary. Quist, a folk singer, has come within striking distance thanks to an outpouring of money and energy from Democrats desperate to score a victory against Trump.
More than 270,000 Montanans already have cast absentee votes in the election, and can not change those votes.
Democratic National Committee Deputy Chair Keith Ellison told NBC News Gianforte should withdraw from the race so he can "focus on his legal problems". Then loud crashing sounds can be heard.
"I'm sick and exhausted of you guys", Gianforte can be heard saying in the audio tape. "Get the hell out of here!" the man yells.
The Latest on the misdemeanor assault case against Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for a Montana congressional seat in a special election Thursday.
The race was already being watched as a political bellwether, with Republicans concerned about possible cracks in support for President Donald Trump after his crisis-ridden first four months in office.