Paul Ryan says Gianforte should apologize, not withdraw, after altercation with reporter

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that GOP candidate Greg Gianforte should apologize for an apparently violent interaction with a reporter, but Ryan also said he would accept the Montanan into the House if he won his special election later in the day.

“First, let me just say physical altercations — there’s never a call for physical altercations,” Ryan said when asked whether Gianforte should withdraw from the race.

“There is no time where a physical altercation should occur or just between human beings, so that is wrong and it should not have happened. Should the gentleman apologize? Yeah, I think he should apologize,” Ryan continued. “I know he has his own version and I’m sure he’s going to have more to say, but there’s no call for this under any circumstance. The people of the state of Montana are going to decide today who they are going to send to Congress.”

Gianforte was cited for assault late Wednesday night after allegedly body-slamming the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs after the reporter pressed him about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the GOP health care plan. Gianforte is the Republican candidate in the special election to fill Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s House seat, which encompasses the entire state of Montana.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin arrives at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 25, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Ryan said he would seat Gianforte if he won Thursday’s election.

“If he wins, he’s been chosen by the people of Montana,” said Ryan. “I’m going to let the people of Montana decide. That’s not our choice.”

Sixty percent of registered voters in Montana have already made their choice between Gianforte and Democratic candidate Rob Quist via absentee voting. Three Montana newspapers retracted their endorsements of Gianforte following Wednesday night’s incident.


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