In their bid to unseat Montana Senator Jon Tester, (D), Republicans have seized on a new controversy: an apocalyptic poster depicting a dead President Donald Trump that promoted a Pearl Jam concert that was used to raise money for Tester's campaign.
While there has been no suggestion that Tester had input into the poster's design, Republicans are criticising the red-state Democrat for failing to condemn its content.
"In a state Trump won by 20 points, Senator Tester's silence . . . is quickly showing Montanans there's no stoop too low for him when it comes to attacking President Trump and his supporters," Calvin Moore, a spokesman for the National Republican Senate Committee, said today, two days after the concert.
Hours later, Chris Meagher, a spokesman for Tester, said the campaign did not have input into the poster's design and did not approve of it.
"We never saw the poster before the show, and we don't like it," Meagher said. "And we don't condone violence of any kind. Period."
Pearl Jam's "Rock2Vote" concert in Missoula on Tuesday was staged independently of the campaign, with a focus on voter turnout.
Meagher said the campaign purchased tickets at face value and paired them with tickets to a separate event as a means to raise money for Tester's race against Matt Rosendale, the state auditor, who has the active support of Trump.
For donations between US$200 and US$500, supporters got tickets to the show as well as a chance to attend a reception the night before with Tester and Jeff Ament, the band's bassist and a longtime friend of the senator.
According to a tweet from Pearl Jam's Twitter account, Ament was the co-creator of the poster in question.
It depicts a White House in flames, with Trump's skeleton face down on the ground reaching for a briefcase with a hammer and sickle on it. An eagle is picking at his carcass.
A gleeful Tester can be seen flying above the devastation on a tractor.
According to local accounts, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder paused halfway through Tuesday's concert on the University of Montana campus to tout Tester's candidacy and urge fans to vote.
"There is one crowd size that we would be proud of, and that we would brag about," Vedder said, taking a dig at Trump's claims about the crowd size at his inauguration.
"And that is if the state of Montana had the largest youth vote, the largest crowd, that came together in this upcoming election. That I would brag about all [expletive] day."