A Halloween-themed message to conservative supporters in one Virginia county took the holiday spirit to extreme levels. Both Democrats and Republicans swiftly condemned its ghastly content.
In the email, President Obama was at the center of a photo collage, the classic Shepard Fairey-designed “HOPE” graphic redesigned with the commander-in-chief as a zombie. It showed his flesh missing, eyeball bulging, and most shockingly, a bullet hole through his skill.
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The email blast, titled “Halloween 2011” was sent to all members of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Displayed just beneath the organization’s masthead at the top of the email was a shocking montage that called up the imagery of Halloween – with an all-too-real bent.
Conservative blog Too Conservative posted the image Monday afternoon, calling it “disgusting and shameful” despite the author disagreeing with Obama’s politics. Quickly, leaders from both the Democrats and the Republicans denounced the collage. Virginia GOP chairman Pat Mullins was among the first to respond, saying the image “has no place in our politics. Ever.” Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy noted, “This is a disgusting and violent portrayal of the president of the United States.” Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, through his spokesman J. Tucker Martin, called on the Loudoun GOP to “apologize for their actions, and to immediately ensure that such imagery is never used again.”
Mark Sell, chairman of the Loudon County Republican Committee, apologized for the image, but defended their creation of it. He explained it was a “light-hearted attempt to inject satire humor into the Halloween holiday,” and said the organization “deplores any effort” to promote violence against the President.
But the fallout was stern. Too Conservative’s post ended with a demand to “send this to the US Secret Service.” The Secret Service, responsible for the president’s personal protection, told the Associated Press they were aware of the image, but disclosed no details about follow-up actions.
The email invited all Loudoun GOP members to a Halloween parade where they planned to “vanquish the zombies with clear thinking conservative principles and a truckload of Republican candy.” On second thought, they might want to rethink the meaning of “clear thinking.”
Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
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