Rick Saccone is a former state representative and adjunct professor at St. Vincent College in PA. He once ran and lost an election against a current member of the House of Representatives from PA, Conor Lamb. He also once sought the GOP nomination to run for Senate in PA and had Christian nationalist icon David Barton’s endorsement. More recently, Saccone showed up on January 6th as a part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol. In fact, he filmed himself describing it.
He then issued a statment minimizing his earlier words. In this KDKA report, part of that statement is provided.
I don’t buy his explanation since he said they were going to run the evil people and “Rinos” out of their offices. Shortly after this video was posted on Facebook, he resigned his adjunct position at St. Vincent and took the video off of Facebook.
I am posting this because I want to draw a line between Saccone’s Christian nationalist beliefs and his appearance in a mob willing to “storm the Capitol.” I realize this is one person and not all persons who hold Christian nationalist beliefs are willing to go as far as Saccone. However, Saccone is a case of an individual who articulates a pious Christianity on one hand but on the other justifies aggressive action when he perceives that his ideology isn’t dominant.
Here is a Saccone on Christian television, Cornerstone TV:
Saccone’s evidence that the Lord is working in America is Trump’s leadership and a good economy. He says as long as “the Lord is leading us,” America will be fine.
But what happens when Trump (or the current messianic political figure) isn’t in power?
Apparently, for at least some Christian nationalists, it is time to take to the streets and storm the Capitol. If your Christianity doesn’t include nationalism, you simply accept whatever happens in each election and continue to pursue the Kingdom of God. However, if your Christianity requires America to be run by Christian rule, then when your preferred candidate loses, your faith is threatened. These are incompatible visions of what our mission here is about. One leads to peace and preoccupation with redemption and service to all. The other leads to political preoccupation, division, discord and sometimes violence. I have a pretty clear idea about which one I think is right.
In a closely watched race for PA’s 18th District Congressional seat, Democrat Conor Lamb has a 627 vote advantage over Republican Rick Saccone as of this afternoon with all absentee and polling ballots counted. Some provisional and military ballots must be counted which won’t be final until next week. However, there may not be enough of them to make a difference in the total.
For now, Lamb has declared victory while Saccone has not conceded. Republican leaders outside of the district are leveling blame at Saccone. According to the Washington Post, Corry Bliss of the Congressional Leadership Fund called Saccone a “joke.” In my view, the joke is on Bliss. His group ran expensive false and negative ads in the district. For instance, a series of ads claimed Lamb was a follower of Nancy Pelosi. To the contrary, Lamb does not support Pelosi and has argued for new leadership in the party. If anything, those ads may have alienated suburban Republican voters and pushed them toward Lamb who ran a positive and issues oriented campaign.
While Saccone’s judgment is open to question (he thinks David Barton is a fine historian), his Republican record and resume are consistent with Trumpian populism. He has been a state legislator, has years of foreign service (even if embellished), and thinks Trump walks on water. In my opinion, all of the complaining about “candidate quality” is an effort to put the best face on what must be a very frightening prospect for Republicans running in 2018. There are numerous districts around the nation where GOP representatives are more vulnerable than the GOP slot was in PA’s District 18.
While a recount is not mandatory in a close House election, Saccone’s team has not ruled out the potential of legal maneuvers to hold up the declaration of a Lamb victory. The outcome might not be official until the legal challenges are exhausted.
On March 1, I reported that those serving with Rick Saccone in North Korea did not recall his time in North Korea as he has portrayed it during his
campaign for Congress in PA’s 18th District. Saccone has claimed he was a diplomat negotiating daily with the North Koreans and was the only American in North Korea for a year between December 2000 and December 2001.
Then, on March 10, The Guardian posted a reported which confirmed and extended my article. Reporters Benjamin Haas and Ben Jacobs spoke to Ambassador David Lambertson and a South Korean official who served with Saccone. Lambertson confirmed to Haas and Jacobs what he told me. The South Korean, Kim Joong-keun, said of all the Americans he worked with Saccone was ranked “at the bottom.”
Saccone has used this experience in his campaign ads and Donald Trump referred to Saccone’s North Korean experience during his campaign stop over the weekend. Trump said Saccone told him things about North Korea that his experts didn’t know. Before a friendly crowd, Trump made Saccone’s few months of experience in North Korea into a matter of great prestige which is exactly what Saccone has been doing the entire campaign.
Saccone’s ad on North Korea:
Posted on Thursday, an episode of Cornerstone Television‘s Real Life featured an interview with GOP candidate for Congress in PA’s 18th District Rick Saccone (source – start 15:38). Cornerstone CEO Don Black interviewed Saccone and offered his endorsement, encouraging viewers to vote for him. Watch:
And then after the interview Black added a specific call to viewers to vote for the “man of God.”
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The Lord is Leading America?
In the first clip, host Black asked Saccone if America’s greatest days are ahead. Saccone said the Lord was leading America now. Saccone’s evidence for this that we have a strong economy with strong markets.
At the same time, I think many Christians are lamenting the leadership of a President who has paid a porn star for silence, prefers white immigrants to dark skinned ones, and rips apart families at our borders. The evangelical church is widely regarded as a joke and many leaders mock the importance of moral leadership.
This episode provides yet another lesson about what is wrong with identifying Christianity with one political party. Eventually the religion and the politics are so intertwined that they become indistinguishable. The religious talking points and the political talking points are the same. Strong markets, economic prosperity, and voting for the GOP are now all the Lord’s work.
Listen to GOP candidate for Congress in PA’s 18th District reply to a mother of an addict during a public hearing on the opioid crisis last year in Lewistown, PA. The hearing was part of a series held around the state on the topic. The video of the entire hearing is 2.5 hours long and can be viewed via this link.
Near the end of the hearing, a mother told her gut-wrenching story of trying to get help for her son who is an addict. Obviously, the system didn’t work for him and she told her story as a way to provide insight into changes needed legislatively to help address the many inefficiencies in the system. To me, Saccone’s cold reply falls flat. Watch:
After telling her about his wife’s dental implants, he asked this woman where she would cut funding to put money into drug treatment. He told her, “We’re going to try to cut the budget, alright? So where do I take it from? Do I take it from education? Do I take it from Alzheimer’s? Do I take it from autistic children? You say you want more funding. Where would you think I should take it from, in those budget line items?” He then paused as if to wait for an answer. I can only imagine how that mother felt.
How About Taking it From Your Expense Account?
Perhaps Saccone should consider cutting his expense accounts rather than autism or education. Saccone has been a big spender of tax dollars for his personal use while a legislator in Harrisburg. According to the online news site Intercept, “Saccone spent $435,172 in taxpayer money using his expense account” during his seven years in office.
If only he could be forced to answer some questions in return.
I saw the link to the YouTube video in the NBC News article which gives a helpful rundown of the differences between Saccone and his Democrat challenger Conor Lamb on addressing the opioid problem. The prevalence of addiction is high in Western PA where economic recovery has been slow to materialize. Although government cannot legislate the problem away, policy which allows existing funds to go to treatments needed by addicts can be enacted.
The special election is a week from tomorrow with Saccone and Lamb are in a statistical dead heat.