Greg Gianforte has been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He will be replacing Ryan Zinke, who left Congress earlier this year in order to become secretary of the Interior. On Wednesday, the night before the election, political reporter Ben Jacobs said that Gianforte body-slammed him after he tried to ask a question about health care.
Gianforte was later charged with misdemeanor assault. Despite this, he was able to defeat his Democratic opponent on Thursday.
So now that Greg Gianforte is joining the U.S. House of Representatives, what are his political positions? And where does he stand on health care, the topic he allegedly body slammed a reporter upon being asked about? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Has Backed Donald Trump & Supported His Decision to Fire James Comey
Greg Gianforte supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and he continues to support Trump as president.
“Trump is our president and the leader of our party, I support him,” Gianforte said in February 2017, according to the Billings Gazette. “Of course, there will be things I don’t agree with the president on and there will be things I don’t agree with Republican leadership on. And, that’s because when those differences of opinion come along, I’ll be on Montana’s side. I’m going to be looking out for Montana first. My number-one priority will be to make sure that Montana’s voice is heard in Washington.”
Gianforte did not find any issues with Trump’s decision to fire FBI director James Comey.
“The FBI has been plagued by controversy, low morale, and a lost of confidence from the American people,” Gianforte said in a statement after Comey was fired, according to CNN. “I strongly urge the President to appoint a well respected, independent voice who will restore the public’s trust and confidence in the FBI.”
Donald Trump has urged his supporters in Montana to vote for Greg Gianforte, with the president recently recording a robocall saying as much.
“Hi, this is President Donald Trump and I know what the people of Montana really want and really care about,” Trump said. “Lower taxes, good paying jobs, secure borders – and we’ve done a great job on those borders – and protecting your God-given right to bear arms. If you don’t vote tomorrow, the liberal Democrats running for Congress will decimate and dismantle all that we’ve done, including they will be raising your taxes and they will be giving you health care that won’t work.”
Trump in the call goes on to urge his supporters to vote for “my friend Greg Gianforte” because he’s “a wonderful guy” who “knows how to win.”
In addition, Donald Trump Jr. recently appeared at a Greg Gianforte campaign rally and showed his support for the Republican candidate.
2. He Promises to Protect the Second Amendment
During his campaign, Greg Gianforte has stressed that he is a strong supporter of the second amendment.
For example, Gianforte released an ad titled “Grab” in which he accuses his opponent, Rob Quist, of wanting to establish a national gun registry. In the commercial, an imagined version of this registry is depicted on a computer screen, and Gianforte subsequently shoots that screen with a gun.
“Some folks just don’t get it,” Gianforte says in the ad. “Our second amendment rights are not up for negotiation.”
Quist did indeed float the idea of a gun registry, but it would only be for automatic weapons.
“They’re only meant to kill people,” Quist said, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “So maybe there should be some legislation to register those types of things. You register your car to drive, why not register guns. I know that’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I think we definitely have the right to bear arms and as I say I’ve been on many hunts myself where I’ve brought home an elk that fed our family and that’s an important thing for Montanans.”
In response to Gianforte’s ad, Rob Quist released his own commercial called “Defend” in which he too promises to protect the second amendment. He then uses a gun to shoot a television that is playing one of Greg Gianforte’s campaign ads.
3. He Opposes Same-Sex Marriage
When it comes to the issue of LGBT rights, Greg Gianforte says that he is opposed to same-sex marriage, according to KTVQ. However, Gianforte has not made this much of an issue in his campaign and has suggested that voters don’t really care about LGBT issues that much.
“I don’t have any particular agenda around these things,” he said, according to KTVQ. “I will defend life, because I think we need a culture of life. But I’m running because I think we need more high-wage jobs, and that’s going to be my focus.”
Gianforte’s charity has supported Montana Family Foundation and Focus on the Family, two organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
Rob Quist says he supports a law prohibiting discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation. Gianforte does not support this, saying that the government should not step in to ensure that businesses serve LGBT people.
“This is a very sticky issue, because our First Amendment guarantees freedom of conscience through the freedom of religion,” Gianforte told the Billings Gazette. “…This country was founded on a freedom of religion basis and we have to respect individuals’ rights to believe as they choose.”
4. He Says He Would Only Support a Health Care Bill That Protects Those With Pre-Existing Conditions
Greg Gianforte is opposed to the Affordable Care Act.
However, he has been somewhat reluctant to support the American Health Care Act, the Republican replacement for Obamacare that recently passed in the House of Representatives. When Gianforte was asked for his position on the bill, a spokesperson told The New York Times, “Greg needs to know all the facts, because it’s important to know exactly what’s in the bill before he votes on it.”
However, according to the Times, Gianforte was heard on a call offering some praise for the bill, or at least showing that he was happy it passed, saying, “The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful for, sounds like we’re starting to repeal and replace.”
A spokesperson for Gianforte later told The Washington Times that Gianforte would not have supported the American Health Care Act because he didn’t have assurances that it would lower premiums and preserve coverage for those with preexisting conditions.
Gianforte’s opponent, Rob Quist, has hammered him for his position on health care, and the conventional wisdom going into the election (before the body-slamming controversy) was that if Gianforte struggles to win, it will be largely because of the American Health Care Act, which is extraordinarily unpopular.
According to The Guardian, reporter Ben Jacobs was trying to ask about the American Health Care Act when the incident took place.
5. He Says the U.S. Needs to ‘Stand Against Russian Aggression’
Greg Gianforte feels that the United States needs to be tougher in its policy towards Russia.
“The situation with Russia is the result of the last eight years of a failed policy by President Obama,” a spokesperson for Gianforte told The Guardian. “The US and our allies need to work together on a long-term strategy to stand against Russian aggression in the region and to ensure the sovereignty of our allies is protected. In any foreign policy decision, we must always ensure that America’s interests are protected.”
In April, ABC Fox Montana reported that Greg Gianforte has financial ties to two Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the United States. Gianforte’s financial disclosure forms show that he owns $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 worth of shares in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund.