Video showing Trump supporters pummeling Biden effigy at Kansas GOP fundraiser stirs outrage

What hath Donald Trump wrought on the GOP?

Just how despicable the MAGA wing of the GOP has become since Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015 is exemplified in a brief video showing his supporters pummeling an effigy of President Joe Biden at a GOP fundraiser in Johnson County, Kansas, last Friday.

The video shows attendees kicking what appears to be a mannequin used for self-defense training — with a Biden mask and dressed in a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt (code for a profane insult of the president).  One woman repeatedly hits the mannequin on the head and face with a foam rubber mallet.

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The video was first posted on the far-right social media platform Rumble, but later taken down, the non-profit news outlet Kansas Reflector reported. The video also shows people giving karate chops to blocks that read “Let’s Go Brandon.”

Trump has completed a take over of the GOP with the help of his enablers. He’s on the verge of clinching the party’s presidential nomination and has installed his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

Brandon Kenig, a former chairman of the Kansas Young Republicans who is now a Democrat, told the Kansas Reflector: The Republican Party “that supported democracy and fought autocracy has faded into history, and the only core tenant of the party that remains is full, undying loyalty to one man. …”

“It’s the logical extension of a a cult-like mentality. When a majority of the party base sees the opposition as inherently evil and dehumanizes them repeatedly over policy disagreements, it’s only a small step to simulated political violence and then actual political violence.”

The video risks alienating center-right Republicans and independents. There were enough moderate Republicans in Kansas to help re-elect Democratic Gov.  Laura Kelly in 2022. And Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, an LGBTQ+ Native American, now represents Kansas’ 3rd C.D. covering much of Johnson County, in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

After the Biden effigy video went viral, there was bipartisan outrage.

Mike Kuckelman, who served as Kansas GOP chairman from 2019-23,  condemned the Biden bashing video on his Facebook page. He called for the resignation of his successor as GOP chairman, Mike Brown, and Johnson County Republican Party chairwoman Maria Holiday. Brown is a 2020 election conspiracy theorist.

He wrote that Republicans should be just as outraged as they were when comedian Kathy Griffin “engaged in similar shameful conduct” against Trump. The comedian’s career suffered after she posed in 2017 with a mock severed head of Trump.

”I don’t agree with President Biden’s policies, but he is a fellow human being. No one should condone or defend this horrific and shameful conduct,” Kuckelman wrote. “No one should condone or defend this horrific and shameful conduct.”

Jan Kessenger, a moderate Republican former state lawmaker, told The Kansas City Star, that he’s thought about leaving the GOP but has remained in the hope that he could still influence it.

Referring to the Biden effigy video, Kessenger said that Trump has made “that sort of behavior acceptable and desired.”

“Teddy Roosevelt talked about a bully pulpit, but they forget the pulpit part and they have just become bullies,” he said.

The Star reported that in 2005 more than 50% of Johnson County’ registered voters were Republicans, but now only 40.9 percent of voters are. And Democrats’ share of voters has increased to 32%, up six percentage points since the 2016 election.

The Star wrote:

The Biden effigy – and the event itself – underscores how the Johnson County Republican Party has been reshaped over the past eight years under former President Donald Trump and his brand of insult politicking. An aggressive, coarser style of politics has taken hold, even as Johnson County voters increasingly vote Democratic. Reactions to the episode also illuminated growing divisions among Kansas Republicans.

And this is how a local TV station KMBC reported on what happened at the fundraiser:

Now Friday’s GOP fundraiser for local legislative candidates at the Overland Park Convention Center  for local legislative candidates would have been bad enough without the Biden bashing incident.

The headliner was conservative rocker Ted Nugent. His unsavory 1981 song “Jailbait” had the line: “Well, I don’t care if you’re just thirteen/ You look too good to be true/
I just know that you’re probably clean.”  

The speakers included former State Attorney General Phill Kline, whose fervent efforts to investigate and prosecute abortion providers, including illegally acquiring medical records of women planning abortion, led the state Supreme Court to indefinitely suspend his law license.

The Johnson County Republican Party released an unsigned statement on its Facebook page denying responsibility for the Biden effigy video. It read:

The Johnson County Republican Party’s, successful series of events last weekend was tarnished by a brief incident where a mask depicting President Biden was added to an outside exhibitor’s interactive self-defense display. The mask was regrettable and removed. No one collected or solicited any funds or donations in exchange for hitting the training device. 

Dakotah Parshall, executive  director of the Kansas Republican Party, issued a statement that the event was the result of “poor judgment” by an “outside exhibitor,” a karate school, which rented a booth at the fundraiser, the Kansas Reflector reported.

Neither statement mentioned the aggressiveness displayed by Trump supporters in attacking the Biden effigy.

Democrats, of course, strongly condemned the beating of Biden’s effigy.

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, urged Republican elected officials to condemn the beating of Biden’s effigy, the Reflector reported.

“Political violence of any kind is vile and wrong, and we cannot afford to brush it under the rug when others encourage it,” Sykes said. “The focus now has to be on Republican leadership of the Kansas Senate and House. If my colleagues in the Legislature agree that this conduct is shameful and dangerous, they cannot turn a blind eye to this behavior. Their silence is consent.”

In last week’s State of the Union address, Biden emphasized the need to “make clear that political violence has absolutely no place, no place in America. Zero place.”

And Jeanna Repass, the Kansas Democratic Party chairwoman, echoed Biden’s remarks in her statement responding to the Biden effigy video.

“There is absolutely no excuse for encouraging or condoning violence of any kind — on a president, a political opponent, a neighbor, or anyone, This sort of extreme behavior is the result of increasingly violent political rhetoric that has gone unchecked over the last several years in our country. As Kansans and Americans, we need to work together to solve the issues we face — not sow hatred, violence, division, and fear.”

Here is the full statement from the Kansas Democratic Party:



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