"She's not racist": House GOP dismisses furor over Stefanik immigration ad

Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican leader, became the face of Democratic messaging after Saturday’s attack by a racist mass shooter in Buffalo, N.Y., as her opponents lined up to decry past ads she ran casting migrants as a force that would “overthrow our current electorate.” The shooter in a manifesto referenced the “great replacement theory,” which falsely asserts that the white population’s influence is being threatened by a flood of immigration. Republicans avowed zero connection between that racist ideology and the “election insurrection” of migrations that Stefanik’s ad warned of…

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Yet even as House Republicans publicly rallied behind Stefanik, who on Tuesday indirectly addressed some of the blowback she’s received, one of her colleagues openly cautioned her about using words that can be easily twisted. It was a warning that reflected a broader awareness within the conference about its messaging chief: She has bigger leadership aspirations and has moved rightward to help achieve them.

“She’s not racist, but you’ve got to be careful about your statements,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who represents a purple district. “I think you’ve got to … stay on message.”

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