comScore John Danforth Decries Anti-Semitism at Tom Schweich Funeral

GOP Senator Slams Anti-Semitic Bullying During Funeral for Gov Candidate Who Committed Suicide

During the funeral of Tom Schweich, a GOP gubernatorial candidate who committed suicide shortly after fretting about a “whisper campaign” accusing him of being Jewish, former U.S. Senator John Danforth (R-MO) condemned the political “bullying” that led to his death.

Schweich, the Missouri state auditor, was a rising star in the GOP and a candidate in the upcoming governor’s race when he took his own life last week. According to messages Schweich had left for the editorial director of the St. Lous Post-Dispatch right before his death, Schweich believed that his opponents were spreading rumors that he was secretly Jewish — a major liability in courting the evangelical Christian base — and had recently been the target of an ad mocking his appearance as a “little bug.”

The man he accused of starting the campaign, newly-elected Missouri GOP chairman John Hancock, had earlier admitted that he had thought Schweich was Jewish (he was, in fact, Episcopalian), and said he may have told mistakenly described Schweich as Jewish to someone, in the manner of “I’m Presbyterian and somebody else is Catholic.”

During his eulogy, Danforth, an Episcopalian priest, slammed Hancock’s attempts at character assasination without naming him. “Tom called this anti-Semitism, and of course it was. The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry,” he saidaccording to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Someone said this was no different than saying a person is a Presbyterian. Here’s how to test the credibility of that remark: When was the last time anyone sidled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian?”

He added:

“This campaign for governor started two years in advance of the 2016 election. And even at this early date, what has been said is worse than anything in my memory, and that’s a long memory. I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign. Anti-Semitism is always wrong and we can never let it creep into politics.”

Several other Missouri politicians echoed Danforth’s call for the end of bullying, with current Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeting:

She was also the first to admit there was a long way to go:

Danforth’s powerful eulogy can be read here.

[h/t TPM]
[Image via Chris Regnier/Fox2Now]

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