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GOP takes dark turn with violent images, ‘enemy within’ rhetoric

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens, U.S. Republican senate candidate for Missouri, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2022.Tristan Wheelock / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... The Jan. 6 committee holds a hearing on Donald Trump’s pressure campaign in the states to overturn the 2020 election. ... It’s Primary Day in Virginia and DC. .. It’s Runoff Day in Alabama and Georgia. ... President Biden delivers remarks on the Covid vaccines being available for children under 5. ... Biden  floats  the possibility of gas-tax holiday. ... And Al Gross drops out of Top 4 Alaska At-Large special. 

But first: Our politics have descended into a deeper, darker place. And that descent is coming exclusively from one side of the aisle. 

In Missouri’s competitive GOP Senate race, candidate Eric Greitens released a campaign video that appears to promote violence against fellow Republicans as he discusses “going RINO hunting” (shorthand for “Republicans in Name Only”) while soldiers in tactical gear burst into a home. 

In Texas, the state’s Republican party released a platform calling Joe Biden the “acting” president and arguing that he wasn’t elected legitimately.  

In Nashville over the weekend, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. — the chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm — said in a speech, “The militant left wing in our country has become the enemy within,” and then added for effect: “You may think that’s pretty dramatic, right, calling them the ‘enemy within.’ Yes I am.”

And in the nation’s capital, the Jan. 6 committee is once again examining the efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as well as the violence that happened at the U.S. Capitol a year and a half ago. 

Promoting violence. Believing Joe Biden’s victory wasn’t legitimate (when he got 306 electoral votes and won the popular vote by 7 million more votes). Calling the left “the enemy within.” And trying to overturn the results of a presidential election that wasn’t even as close as 2000 or 2004. 

And before you say Democrats and the left do the same, there are no Democratic candidates with campaign videos of them storming into homes to go “hunting”; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. — Scott’s counterpart at the DSCC — isn’t calling the GOP the “enemy within”; and Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump in 2016, while Barack Obama invited him to the White House the next day.

Also, if you’re trying to say the other side does it, you’re only justifying your side’s behavior. 

Tweet the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 11,780

That’s how many votes former President Donald Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” in an infamous phone call on Jan. 1, 2021, which was first reported by the Washington Post. 

Raffensperger is set to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol at today’s hearing. NBC News’ Peter Nicholas reports that the hearing will focus on Trump and his allies’ efforts to push state officials to help Trump win the 2020 election, including a plan to submit an alternate slate of electors in some swing states. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will lead the proceedings. 

Other numbers to know:

$1 million: How much money two GOP donors each gave to a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC that’s been playing in Democratic primaries, per the New York Times.

$103.5 million: That’s how much a Nobel Prize fetched at an auction for a Russian journalist who used the money to help Ukrainian child refugees. 

11: How many times WNBA star Brittney Griner’s wife says Griner tried to call her from Russian prison, but the embassy phone line she called wasn’t staffed. 

5: How many elections Israel will have in the last three years once it disbands parliament to hold new elections this fall. 

$4.7 million: How much the GOP-aligned non-profit One Nation is spending this summer in New Hampshire, where the group has criticized Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan over rising prices, per Fox News

42 million: How many people AAA estimates will travel on July 4 weekend, which would be a record despite the rising cost of gas.  

Midterm roundup: More races to watch today

While most of the attention tonight may be on primary runoffs in Alabama and Georgia, Virginia and the District of Columbia are also holding primaries. Here are a few races to watch: 

Virginia-02: The top fundraiser in the GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria is state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans, who’s raised over $1 million so far. Kiggans has also been boosted by the Winning for Women Action Fund, which launched a six-figure ad campaign last week to aid her campaign. There are three other candidates running for the GOP nomination in this district — Tommy Altman, Andy Baan and Jarome Bell, all of whom are also veterans. Bell has a history of questioning the results of the 2020 election and even had his Twitter account suspended as a result of his conspiratorial tweets.

Virginia-07: Multiple candidates are competing to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, including state Sen. Bryce Reeves, Army Special Forces veteran Derrick Anderson, businesswoman Crystal Vanuch and Yesli Vega, a sheriff’s deputy who led Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Latino’s for Youngkin campaign have all raised at least $500,000. 

D.C. Mayor: Mayor Muriel Bowser’s main opponents are City Council Members Robert White Jr. and Trayon White, Sr. (who are not related). Both have criticized Bowser over issues like crime and inequality in the city, and the sitting city attorney general, Karl Racine, is backing Robert White over Bowser. The incumbent has been endorsed by the Washington Post’s editorial board.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Colorado Senate: The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced Monday it plans to file an FEC complaint into Democratic meddling in the Colorado Senate race, accusing the Democratic group of failing to include a disclaimer on mail pieces and failing to disclose its donors, spending and vendors. 

Missouri Senate: Former GOP Sen. Jack Danforth is among a new group urging Jan. 6 committee investigator John F. Wood to run for Senate as an independent. 

Alaska At-Large: Al Gross, the nonpartisan House candidate who just won a spot in the special election, is now dropping out of the race, Alaska Public Media reports

Illinois-01: Web3Forward, a super PAC tied to cryptocurrency executives, launched a new TV ad in the open Democratic primary in Illinois’ 1st District, boosting Jonathan Jackson, Rev. Jesse Jackson’s son, ahead of next week’s primary to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush.

New York-23: Politico reports on how GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik’s feud with state GOP chair Nick Langworthy has simmered over into the congressional race where Langworthy is running and Stefanik has endorsed a controversial candidate. 

Ad watch: Five ads that define Tuesday’s races

Voters are voting in Virginia and D.C.’s primaries, as well as runoffs in Alabama and Georgia, where the battles have been playing out on the airwaves for months. 

In Alabama, former top Senate aide Katie Britt has been celebrating her endorsement from former President Trump in a recent ad; Trump-backed lawyer Jake Evans attacks his opponent as a “RINO” in an ad featuring a real rhinoceros; and another Republican looks past his primary towards the fall. 

Read more on the Meet the Press Blog about the ads that define Tuesday’s top races. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, attended an event in March 2021 where Trump was referred to as the “legitimate president,” The Washington Post reports. 

Sandwiched between Jan. 6 committee hearings, former Vice President Mike Pence took to the stump on Monday and called the attack on the Capitol “a tragic day.” 

The Austin American Statesman reports that police entered Uvalde, Texas’ Robb Elementary School 19 minutes after a gunman, but waited. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman would not guarantee that the two Americans captured in Ukraine won’t receive the death penalty.