South Dakota state Sen. Neal Tapio was caught on tape saying a terrorist attack would help push him to victory.
In the race for South Dakota's at-large congressional seat, one Republican candidate, businessman and state Sen. Neal Tapio, was caught on tape claiming a terrorist attack would help boost his campaign.
His reasoning? It would produce a "Trump effect," ostensibly driving people to vote for him out of fear.
Local broadcast station KELO first posted the audio from Tapio last Saturday.
"All that has to happen is that there will be one more terrorist attack between now and then and I will be the — just by the Trump effect — I will be the candidate," said Tapio in the recording. "That’s the way I look at it."
Asked to respond, Tapio wrote on Facebook that any claim he wants there to be a terrorist attack is a "disgusting smear," but took the opportunity to double-down on his hatred of Muslims. In his lengthy social media post, he wrote, "Terror has something to do with Islam. Nobody dares say this in public. I do." He also noted that he "read the Koran twice," and that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Pope are all wrong to call Muslims peaceful.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tapio has spent much of his time in the South Dakota state Senate drafting xenophobic and anti-Muslim legislation, including a bill to abolish all refugee settlement in South Dakota and a resolution calling on the Justice Department and Homeland Security to declare "Sharia Law" as "the root cause of the global war on terrorism."
But Tapio's use of the phrase "Trump effect" is highly revealing. His ignorance and hate do not exist in a vacuum — they are legitimized by a president who shares the same views.
Thanks to this atmosphere, state lawmakers and office seekers now think it's okay to casually discuss Americans being murdered in the context of their election hopes. And it's deeply unacceptable.