Congressional candidate Dan Helmer, a Democrat looking to unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), garnered national attention recently – as well as the attention of the White House – for a campaign ad in which he says President Trump poses as great a threat to American democracy as did Osama bin Laden.
"After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave," Helmer says in the ad. "Today, he lives in the White House. No one, even the president, is above the law."
According to the Washington Post, the line is one Helmer frequently uses in campaign appearances.
The former Army officer and Rhodes scholar only uses the phrase to rile up his base and “get attention and major funding from extreme left-wing mega donors like Tom Steyer”, says Comstock.
"It’s an outrageous and offensive thing to say, and beyond the pale," Comstock said in a statement. "In Congress, we have been standing with President Trump, on a bipartisan basis to strengthen our military, defeat ISIS and battle terrorism, and make the world safer."
Last week the White House said Helmer’s ad is “nothing short of reprehensible”:
"Leaders from across the political spectrum — starting with Leader Pelosi — must swiftly condemn this abhorrent message," White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.
But Helmer is undeterred.
His campaign manager Bonnie Krenz said Helmer has “the courage to say what’s right, rather than what’s easy.”
"What is abhorrent is the way this president has failed to uphold his oath of office." Krenze said the campaign stands by the ad and disputed the notion that there was anything about that warrants condemnation.
"He is the strongest candidate on the issues that matter most to the district, including healthcare and gun safety. And he's ready to uphold his oath to defend the Constitution by serving as a check on President Trump."