Rep. Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.), who was recently endorsed by former President Barack Obama for her Senate bid, boasted during a fundraiser last month about being out "in front" after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Rosen told attendees at the Seattle fundraiser, which was hosted by many prominent members of the region's Jewish community, that she "channelled [her] inner rabbi" during hospital visits and funerals following the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, according to a recording of the event obtained by the Nevada Independent.
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"The people say, ‘What could you have learned by being the president of the synagogue?' Let me tell you, I have learned more things that have prepared me for Congress than probably anything else," Rosen said.
"When October 1, when we had that massacre, I went to those hospital rooms and those funerals. No one, none of the other politicians—‘What do we do?’ I said, ‘I’m just channeling my inner rabbi," Rosen continued. "I was thinking, ‘What would Rabbi (Sanford) Akselrad (of Congregation Ner Tamid) say? What would my cantor say?’ Whether at a funeral, a bedside, or whatever. So I just, they put me in front, and I just did that and it was, because I knew. I’d been there."
When asked for comment about the audio, Rosen's campaign told the Independent that the congresswoman wasn't trying to compare herself to other politicians when she made the "in front" comment and that she meant she was at events or privately meeting with "in front" of the wounded or family members who lost loved ones days following the shooting:
Her campaign also said that in saying other politicians were asking "What do we do?" she was emphasizing that no politician was prepared to respond to the events of that day and that she asked herself and other leaders what they could and should do to help the community. Rosen spoke to many elected officials after the shooting for information, ideas and advice, including fellow delegation members, local elected officials, law enforcement and other members of Congress from around the country that had gone through mass shootings in their districts, according to her campaign.
In a statement, Rosen said that politicians don’t have a "guidebook" for responding to tragedies but that she was able to draw on her experience as a synagogue president comforting members of the community who had lost a family member or had someone in the hospital. As president, Rosen worked closely with her rabbi and would be one of the first to hear and respond to tragedies within the congregation and also referred temple members to the synagogue’s bereavement group, which she participated in herself when her parents died.
Journalist Jon Ralston, who has been covering Nevada politics for over 30 years, slammed Rosen's comments during the fundraiser, saying it is "not a good look" for Rosen.
"This is really not a good look for @RepJackyRosen. The audio/video clearly show her making it seem (falsely) that somehow she was asked to be in front of all other pols, who she implies were befuddled and did not know what to do on 1 October. It's pretty unseemly boasting," Ralston tweeted.
This is really not a good look for @RepJackyRosen. The audio/video clearly show her making it seem (falsely) that somehow she was asked to be in front of all other pols, who she implies were befuddled and did not know what to do on 1 October. It's pretty unseemly boasting. https://t.co/QGhqQSFSFI
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) August 6, 2018
He also wrote a piece in response to the comments, saying the video was "disturbing" and he was "stunned" at her comments.
"Rep. Jacky Rosen is known for being a relatively sober, careful elected official," Ralston wrote. "So when I first saw the video of her at a Seattle fundraiser bragging about her role on arguably the worst day in Nevada history and making it seem as if she was The Iron Lady among the feckless, I was stunned. And it takes a lot to do that."
"My view is that this is not just problematic politically for Rosen. I’d go so far as to say the video is disturbing. Watch it a few times, as I did," Ralston continued.
Rosen was the first and only Senate candidate Obama endorsed last week. She is running against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.).
"I’m proud to endorse Jacky Rosen to be the next United States Senator from Nevada," Obama said. "Jacky’s already proven herself a strong, thoughtful leader who can be trusted to do what’s right for hardworking Nevadans. She’s fought to protect the progress we’ve made on health care, to defend women’s reproductive rights, and to come up with smarter immigration policies that don’t tear families apart, but rather keep us all safe and strong. This November, the future of the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court are at stake – and our health care is more important than political games. That’s why I’m with Jacky Rosen. And that’s why I’m asking Nevadans to join her, and to help take back the Senate this November."