When Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said that to improve the party’s bruised image, Republicans needed to stop saying “stupid, idiotic things,” this can’t have been what he had in mind.
On Sunday, Todd Kincannon, a South Carolina lawyer and the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, tweeted that it was a “shame” an antiwar veteran “didn’t come home in a body bag.”
When a supporter of Prysner tweeted back, “Damn Todd. That’s pretty fucked up,” Kincannon responded, “Go read what the asshole wrote. I wish the Iraqis had better aim with his ass.” And a final tweet: “I hope if that guy is ever in combat again, the enemy splatters his brain JFK-style. He deserves it.”
And so the GOP’s attempt to rebrand itself hit another snag—not just from a random member of the base, from a former party operative.
Now South Carolina’s Republican establishment wants nothing to do with Kincannon.
A prominent GOP operative in South Carolina who asked not to be identified told The Daily Beast that Kincannon was “generously editing” his résumé to emphasize his time in the state party’s leadership. The operative said Kincannon served as executive director of the organization for just three months before resigning.
According to Kincannon’s LinkedIn profile, he was also general counsel and parliamentarian of the state party. But the operative said that “anyone in the party with a law degree” could be called general counsel, and that parliamentarian was an unpaid, volunteer position with few responsibilities.
Karen Floyd, a former chairwoman of the South Carolina GOP who worked alongside Kincannon during his time with the state party, declined to comment on his remarks, saying, “This is so far away from my remote interest level.”
The South Carolina Republican Party also declined to comment on Kincannon, and Kincannon did not respond to requests for comment.
Prysner, the Iraq War vet and activist, said he had never heard of Kincannon before becoming the target of his ire on Sunday.
“There are always going to be these far-right, fascist people who don’t want us to speak out about what we experienced,” said Prysner. “The fact that Kincannon was a former executive director of a state GOP shows how these extreme anti-soldier sentiments don’t just exist in the party but in the party’s leadership.”
Prysner said he has received a slew of phone calls and emails since Sunday, largely from people expressing their support for his cause.
March Forward, an organization for antiwar veterans and service members that Prysner cofounded, posted a petition on Monday asking people to “stand with Mike Prysner and all antiwar veterans against right-wing and fascist attacks.” As of Wednesday evening, the petition had more than 100 signatures.
Kincannon is hardly a stranger to controversy on Twitter.
In November, he called Nancy Pelosi a “c--t.”
During this year’s Super Bowl, he tweeted “It hasn’t been this dark in the Superdome since all those poors occupied it after Hurricane Katrina.”
Will Folks, a prominent South Carolina political blogger known for stirring up controversy himself, said Kincannon “thrives on this kind of attention.”
“Todd is entertainment,” Folks said, “and whether you agree with the entertainment or not, a lot of people are watching”—much to the chagrin of the party establishment.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed a tweet to Prysner. The tweet in question was sent by one of his supporters.