A congressional challenger is now campaigning on a Sacha Baron Cohen prank after his Republican opponent admitted on camera that he supports putting guns in the hands of children.
Among the people that Cohen duped in his new comedy series, “Who is America?” is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican congressman from Orange County, California, who admitted on screen that he supports putting guns in the hands of children to make schools safer. Following the show’s premiere, Rohrabacher’s challenger Harley Rouda issued a statement calling out the incumbent for falling for the prank.
For the first episode of his new series, Cohen impersonated an anti-terror expert named Erran Morad, who peddled a fake “Kingerguardians” program to arm children aged 3-12 years old so they could protect themselves and their classmates against school shooters. Among the politicians who supported the fake program were former Illinois congressman and conservative talk radio host Joe Walsh, gun rights advocate and president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League Philip Van Cleave, Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, and, of course, Rohrabacher.
In his statement, Rouda denounced Rohrabacher’s support of the fake program, and the congressman’s apparent gullibility. “Arming children in response to an epidemic of gun violence sounds like a good idea to Dana Rohrabacher, which can only mean one thing: Dana Rohrabacher is completely out of good ideas,” Rouda said in a statement. “Dana can try to walk back his comments or call them fake news, but that’s just a sad, cynical move straight out of the tired, politics-as-usual playbook.”
“Maybe having young people trained and understand how to defend themselves in their school might actually make us safer here,” Rohrabacher said in the episode, fully aware he was on camera and on the record.
Republicans have widely condemned Cohen’s new show, and several of those who were pranked, including Sarah Palin and Roy Moore, the former Republican Senate hopeful from Alabama, issued statements in advance of the show’s airing.
The race between Rohrabacher and his Democratic challenger, meanwhile, is in a dead heat: A poll of likely voters published Tuesday shows Rouda leading with 46 percent of the likely vote, compared to Rohrabacher’s 43.
Cover image: Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) grills Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the Benghazi attack before the House Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, DC on January 23, 2013. Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images.