A top former director at the Republican National Committee who helped bring about the GOP’s “Fire Pelosi” campaign against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expressing regret in wake of the brutal assault on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.
Doug Heye, who served as the RNC’s communications manager in 2010, wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Monday acknowledging that as an operative who fueled the “Fire Pelosi” campaign (which included images of the House speaker engulfed in flames), “our toxic politics goes too far.”
“Collectively, we have to lower the temperature,” Heye wrote. “People keep getting hurt. We’re very lucky no one has been killed — and I worry I need to emphasize ‘yet.’”
The ex-RNC official who has been anti-Trump since 2016 conceded that “the original sin begins with” the GOP, citing the party’s racist birther attacks against then-President Barack Obama and its embrace of Donald Trump.
“Just as warming waters create the conditions for more frequent and destructive hurricanes, toxic rhetoric can manifest into actions,” he wrote.
Heye’s condemnation came on the same day David DePape, the suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi in the Speaker’s San Francisco home on Friday, was federally charged with assaulting a U.S. official’s immediate family member and attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official.
According to the Justice Department, DePape told investigators that he broke into Pelosi’s home to take the Democratic leader hostage and “talk to her.” He allegedly said that he planned on breaking Pelosi’s kneecaps if she “lied” to him.
Pelosi wasn’t home during the attack. DePape allegedly confronted Paul Pelosi and shouted “Where’s Nancy?”
DePape allegedly hit the Speaker’s 82-year-old husband in the head with a hammer, causing a skull fracture that had to be treated with surgery.
It soon emerged after DePape’s arrest that the alleged assailant had frequently trafficked in far-right conspiracy theories online about, among other things, the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection – the kind of conspiracy theories many Republican lawmakers have advanced.