GOP group not backing down from TV ad tying Ossoff to baseball shooting

A Republican group is refusing to back away from a politically charged television ad linking Democrat Jon Ossoff to the gunman who targeted GOP members of Congress while they were practicing for a charity baseball game.

The ad blamed “unhinged leftists” for endorsing those sorts of violent attacks against Republicans, and said those same people are all backing Ossoff.

Both the Ossoff and Handel campaigns condemned the ad, titled “Stop the Violent Left.” But a spokesman for the little-known group, the Principled Leadership Project, told the Washington Examiner that the group stands by the ad.

“Wednesday’s shooting, in stark contrast to a random act of violence, was a political assassination attempt driven by the left’s rabid, unhinged rhetoric, so Americans should take a hard look at the ramifications of politically motivated violence,” Noel Fritsch said in an email.

The ad includes video footage of the aftermath of the shooting, perpetrated by an individual who expressed hatred of Republicans and President Trump on social media and volunteered for Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. The gunman wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., two United States Capitol Police officers who ultimately took the perpetrator down, one current House GOP aide and one former House GOP aide.

The spot urges voters in suburban Atlanta to elect Republican Karen Handel on Tuesday when they head to the polls to decide a closely fought special election runoff to fill Georgia’s vacant sixth congressional district.

Principled PAC appears to be leveraging news coverage of the advertisement for attention. The group is only airing the spot on Fox News through Monday evening, and has invested only “five figures” in the campaign. Fritsch, who also served as a spokesman for Virginia Republican Corey Stewart, the runnerup in last week’s GOP gubernatorial primary, declined to provide additional details on what the group is spending.

Principled PAC is run by Republican political consultant Reilly O’Neal, whose LinkedIn profile lists him as working for Tidewater Strategies, a firm based in Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina. The group’s website says it only supports “principled conservatives, period.”