GOP candidate contest: Silliest ISIS claim (with poll!)

The chutzpah of some Republican candidates in this election cycle seems to know no bounds.

ISIS is at the borders, infiltrating the country. We’re all going to die of Ebola. And of course, they blame it all on President Obama and whatever Democratic opponent they happen to be facing.

One of the new claims is by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.), who is Arkansas’ GOP candidate for Senate. According to a report in the Washington Post, Cotton told a tele-town-hall meeting that terrorists from the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) are infiltrating Mexican drug cartels to invade Arkansas.

“Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism,” Cotton said in answer to a constituent’s question. “They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.”

Scary stuff, indeed — all without a shred of evidence. When asked by the Post for evidence to back up his claim, Cotton’s office cited reports in conservative right-wing media, reports that have been repeatedly debunked.

Another recent trip to crazytown was by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R, Calif.). He told Fox News (where else?) that he has “inside knowledge” from a “high-level official” that border security agents have captured 10 ISIS members at the Mexican border. Even Fox host Greta van Susteren looked skeptical. How did Hunter know? she asked. “Because I’ve asked the Border Patrol,” he answered. (The complete — and very entertaining — story is in a report at MaddowBlog for The Rachel Maddow Show.)

Hunter might as well be riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland — after all, his Southern California district isn’t far from Anaheim. According to a statement from the Dept. of Homeland Security, “The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground. DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

The fact that DHS has to waste time even answering questions about such a stupid claim shows how ridiculous the election has become. Duncan and his office have doubled down on his claim, saying that DHS was “actively discouraging” any talk about ISIS on the border.

So, the MaddowBlog report said: “Hunter has no proof, but he has a source he won’t identify, who gave him information that literally no one else can verify, about an important claim unsupported by facts.” Hunter’s only backtrack was that the 10 individuals he mentioned should probably be referred to as “foreign nationals” with ties to terrorist organizations.

Perhaps the most fun example might be from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, Texas), who, in a report from Talking Points Memo, hit what the report labeled a trifecta when he combined Ebola, ISIS, and climate change into one complaint about the Obama administration.

In an interview with Newsmax (I’m sure you’ll pardon me if I don’t link to the story), he said, “This President, and this secretary of state, think that more deadly to this country than Ebola is climate change, more deadly than the Islamic State to Thomas Foley is climate change.” Of course, he meant James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIS. But why get details right when you’re a Republican doing a political smear job?

But wait — there’s more! According to an online report from TIME, a scary-sounding voiceover in an ad from the National Republican Campaign Committee claims that “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day. Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The source for that ad was a right-wing newspaper misquoting a DHS official talking about social media. Several Republicans have used images of ISIS in campaign ads, some even using the image of the ISIS thug wielding a knife over James Foley.

So go ahead — which is the worst? SO FAR? (Cue scary music here.)

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