Republican candidate Leslie Gibson has dropped out of Maine’s House District 57 race after verbally attacking two survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Twitter. “I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high,” said Gibson in a statement reported by The Sun Journal on Friday. The tweets as well as his Twitter account may now be deleted; however, the damage done by them has been pinned to the top of Gibson’s proverbial Twitter feed.
His comments were reportedly spurred on by the press appearances of two of the survivors-turned-activists, Emma González and David Hogg. In response to a post by The Hill about how González has more Twitter followers than the NRA, Gibson vitriolically responded, calling her a “skinhead lesbian” before questioning whether she was actually a survivor.
According to The Portland Press Herald, Gibson’s tweets came in response to Hogg’s appearance on CNN during which he accused NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch of manipulating government officials for the organization’s gains. “She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things. She doesn’t care about these children’s lives,” said Hogg.
Rather than engaging with Gibson directly, Hogg took a far more effective approach. He used Twitter as a platform for change. “Who wants to run against this hate loving politician he's is running UNOPPOSED RUN AGAINST HIM I don't care what party JUST DO IT,” he tweeted. In response to Gibson’s remarks, first time politician Eryn Gilchrist joined the race, citing his comments as the driving force behind her decision to run. While González did not make a statement, she retweeted a Refinery29 story thanking Gilchrist for throwing her hat in the ring.
In a later tweet, Gibson apologized: "I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you. It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”
This isn’t the first time Gibson used social media as a platform to express his controversial opinions on the Parkland, FL school shooting. Last month, the politician wrote a post on Facebook claiming that there has been “a lot of misinformation, and flat out lies” perpetuated by “the liberal media and leftist anti-Second Amendment groups” about the shooting which took 17 lives last month.
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