Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) on Wednesday said the murder of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts presents an opportunity for Republicans because Tibbetts was killed by an immigrant from Mexico.
In an email to Axios, Gingrich wrote that Democrats should worry about Tibbetts becoming a “household name” ahead of the midterm elections.
“If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble. If we can be blocked by Manafort-Cohen, etc., the GOP could lose [the House] badly,” Gingrich predicted.
He added that if Democrats can seize on the drama surrounding Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump, then Republicans can use Tibbett’s murder as a referendum on immigration.
“We are living in two alternative political universes,” Gingrich said. “In one, Manafort-Cohen is dispositive. In the other, illegal immigrants killing Mollie Tibbetts is dispositive.”
Gingrich’s rank politicization of Tibbetts’s death comes her family pleads with conservative politicians not to use her death to score political points.
hey i’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. now stop being a fucking snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. take her name out of your mouth. https://t.co/xxZNBF0Uv9
— sam (@samlucasss) August 22, 2018
“I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics,” Tibbetts’ aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, told CNN. Tibbetts’ brother Jake said his family appreciates the outpouring of support but asks that their privacy is respected.
— CNN (@CNN) August 23, 2018
“Remember this as a time that the country came together for one girl. One girl that loved everyone. One girl that loved everything and wanted the best for everyone. Don’t remember this as the time that someone made a very poor decision and took a girl away,” he said. “We’re going to miss her dearly but, to be honest, what made her so special is she was just like anyone standing here. She loved to run. She loved Harry Potter. She loved the hawks. She loved her family. She was goofy. She was clumsy.”
Social media blew up with outrage at Gingrich’s comments:
Disgusting and Disgraceful! Mollie’s family has asked that her death not be politicized. Respect their privacy, loss and grief! @newtgingrich
— Susan Hershey Smith (@SusanHershSmith) August 23, 2018
Using the dead child of strangers to promote your cause is outrageous! I am the mother of a dead son who served 8 years in the 82nd Airborne and I talk about him because he was mine and his life is a lesson for others. I don’t know what I’d do if Newt used him as a campaign tool
— Stephanie Keegan (@warsnotover) August 23, 2018