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Democrats label Scott Wagner a racist after he reads InfoWars letter at event

Wesley Venteicher
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is pictured at a town hall meeting July 11, 2018, at the Garden and Civic Center Auditorium in Greensburg.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is calling Scott Wagner a racist over a speech in which the Republican gubernatorial candidate likened President Trump to an exterminator ridding the nation of problems, including that “we are being invaded.”

At a campaign stop last week in Wilkes-Barre, Wagner read portions of a letter that originally appeared on conspiracy-theory website InfoWars . The letter used a raccoon-exterminator analogy as an illustration that Trump supporters are willing to overlook his faults because they believe he will carry out their wishes in office.Wagner’s campaign posted video of the speech on Facebook .

“This country is weak, bankrupt; our enemies are making fun of us, we are being invaded,” he said, dropping the clause that followed, which read “by illegal aliens and bringing tens of thousands of Muslim refugees to America, while leaving Christians behind to be persecuted.”

He continued with, “We are becoming a nation of victims. Tom, Ricardo, Hasid is a special group with special rights to the point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born with and raised in.”

That line in particular struck a nerve with the Democratic Party. Mike Mikus, a spokesman for the party, said Wagner’s remarks were “racist and repugnant,” saying they demonstrate Wagner, a former state senator, “has no business ever serving in public office again.”

Wagner said he’s aware that some people compare him to Trump.

“He and I, we know there’s a swamp,” Wagner said. “He knew there’s a swamp in D.C.; there’s a swamp in Harrisburg.”

He then read from the letter, which he said someone had shared with him. InfoWars originally published the letter, written by an anonymous 80-year-old Trump supporter, in March. The site was founded by Alex Jones, a conservative radio host who has promoted conspiracy theories including a claim that the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.

Democrats called on Republican Party officials and candidates to “denounce Wagner for sharing such a hateful, racist anecdote and for his refusal to apologize for it.”

Wagner defended his reading from the letter in a Thursday statement sent by spokesman Andrew Romeo.

“I’ve always said that if you want the perfect candidate who is politically correct, then you shouldn’t vote for me. The story I read last week, to me, is an analogy that illustrates voters don’t really care what types of flaws their leaders have, as long as they are getting things done for the people they serve. The raccoons do not represent any type of person — they represent the problems. And the voters want someone who can solve their problems. That is how I will approach my governorship. Tom Wolf wants to run negative ads to distract people from their problems and I want to roll up my sleeves, get to work, and make change.”

In response to a question about whether Wagner was aware the letter originally appeared on InfoWars, Romeo referenced a comment he had made to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Scott had an email forwarded to him and he read parts of what he was forwarded,” Romeo told the publication . “What was forwarded to Scott was different than what was posted on InfoWars.”

Romeo referenced previous comments from Wagner on the topic of racism and discrimination, including a PennLive editorial last year in which Wagner stated, “the very idea that anyone would question the value of life based on race, color, creed or sexuality is flat out wrong.”

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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