A former Republican congressman and failed candidate for both Colorado governor and president twice posted an anti-immigration message on Facebook showing the bodies of victims slain in a Paris nightclub.
Tom Tancredo, who served seven terms in the U.S. House, twice posted the unedited image of dozens of victims killed during a concert at the Bataclan theater — which he used to criticize Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s stance on Syrian refugees.
“Celebrating Diversity, One massacre at a time,” reads the post’s text, shared Monday above a photo of the massacre scene. “Coming soon to a concert hall near you.”
The photo first ran in the Daily Mail, with the bodies blurred out, but Tancredo did not obscure the carnage when he asked a friend to create the social media meme — which closely matches themes promoted by white supremacists.
Tancredo, who staked his political career on fighting immigration, said he welcomed the controversy that he hoped would “start a conversation” about potential risks posed by Syrian refugees to U.S. security.
“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country if you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” Tancredo told The Denver Post.
He accused Hinkenlooper, who has said he would welcome refugees from the Syrian civil war after they had been closely vetted by federal authorities, of creating “a sanctuary state for Muslim terrorists.”
The Democratic governor declined to join more than 30 other U.S. governors in rejecting the refugees — although they don’t technically have the authority to do so.
“Great idea, John,” Tancredo said in a second Facebook post Wednesday that used the unedited Bataclan image. “What could ‘possibly’ go wrong?”
Hinkenlooper was not amused when a reporter showed him the images, reported The Post.
“That’s beyond comment,” the governor said. “Come on.”
The Colorado Republican Party pointed out that Tancredo, who sought the GOP nomination for president in 2008 before dropping out to work for Mitt Romney, announced two weeks ago he was no longer affiliated with the party.
“According to his own words, Tom Tancredo is no longer a registered Republican, and therefore is no longer our problem,” said Ryan Lynch, executive director of the state GOP.
Tancredo hoped to challenge Hinkenlooper in the 2014 gubernatorial race but lost in the GOP primary.
He announced his decision to drop his Republican affiliation in a column posted on Breitbart, where he complained the GOP had failed to stop President Barack Obama’s “transformative” agenda.
Republican lawmakers in Colorado have generally opposed the governor’s position on Syrian refugees, citing conservative media reports indicating that two service members with unspecified ties to Colorado Springs are on an ISIS hit list.
Sen. David Vitter, who is trailing in the Louisiana gubernatorial race, has also exploited the Paris attacks this week in political ads.