UPDATE, 1:55 p.m.:The Ron Paul supporter who got roughed up by Newt Gingrich’s staff in Florida yesterday says he is pressing charges against the aides who harassed him and broke his foot.
According to the Paul campaign, the 29-year-old supporter, Eddie Dillard, was diagnosed with a bone fracture and put in a walking boot after a Gingrich security aide intentionally stepped on his bare foot. (The gory details are in the original post below.)
In a statement today, Paul’s campaign chair Jesse Benton again called on Gingrich to apologise for the incident, and pay Dillard’s medical bills.
“Newt’s campaign staff broke Eddie Dillard’s foot, yet we still have not heard from Gingrich about how he plans to right the situation. Today, we are calling on Newt Gingrich to pay for Eddie’s medical bills. In addition, we wish Eddie a full and speedy recovery,” Benton said in a statement.
The Gingrich campaign did not return Business Insider’s request for comment.
ORIGINAL POST, 1/31/12:
With just a few hours to go before the polls close, the Florida GOP primary is getting really ugly.
Tensions escalated to physical violence today, when campaign aides for Newt Gingrich tried to rough up a Ron Paul supporter who got in the way of their candidate’s photo op.
Yahoo’s Chris Moody reports that the supporter, Eddie Dillard, was quietly waving his Ron Paul sign outside his Orlando polling precinct this afternoon, apparently unaware that the Gingrich camp had chosen the site for his final campaign stop of the day.
Gingrich’s staff was not happy. This disturbing encounter ensued:
Noticing the awkward optics, Gingrich aides and security personnel swarmed Dillard, trying to intimidate him into moving. One of Gingrich’s security agents stepped in front of him. When Dillard didn’t budge, the agent lifted his heeled shoe over Dillard’s bare foot and dug the back of it into his skin, twisting it side-to-side like he was stomping out a cigarette. Shocked, Dillard kept his ground and took a picture of the agent with his phone, which was quickly knocked out of his hand. Dillard slipped off his flip-flop to pick up the phone with his foot, and a Gingrich supporter kicked the sandal away.
“Don’t kick me!” Dillard said to the man who knocked away his sandal. More members of Gingrich’s security retinue approached, shoving their shoulders and chests in front of him.
“Just block him!” a Gingrich campaign aide said. “Everyone step on his toes!”
Anyone who has been to a campaign event knows that Paul’s supporters can be irritatingly fervent. But this reaction is completely inappropriate, even borderline psychotic.
Unsurprisingly, the Paul camp is now demanding Gingrich apologise for the abuse and fire the staffers involved.
“They say the culture of an organisation is a reflection of its top executive and today’s deplorable behaviour against Ron Paul supporter Eddie Dillard in Florida reflects very poorly on Congressman Gingrich,” Paul’s campaign chair, Jesse Benton, said in a statement. “There is simply no excuse for the type of violent, boorish and abusive behaviour demonstrated by Mr. Gingrich’s campaign. We hope Mr. Gingrich understands this and takes the actions we recommend.”
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