After a joke on Saturday Night Live poked fun at his war injury, Texas congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw responded Sunday that he hopes the show “recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.”
Crenshaw, a Republican, is running against Democrat Todd Litton to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston. The joke at his expense came from cast member Pete Davidson, who was doing a bit during the Weekend Update segment in which he gave his first impressions of congressional candidates across the country.
“This guy’s kinda cool, Dan Crenshaw,” Davidson said as a picture of Crenshaw wearing an eye patch appeared on the screen. “You may be surprised to hear that he’s a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hitman in a porno movie.”
After some awkward laughter, Davidson added, “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever.”
Crenshaw served five military deployments overseas and was a member of SEAL Team Three. His website describes how he lost his eye: “On Dan’s third deployment in 2012, his life changed forever. After six months of combat operations, Dan was hit by an IED blast during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was evacuated and awoke from his medically induced coma learning that his right eye had been destroyed in the blast and his left eye was still present, but badly damaged. Dan was completely blind and the doctors did not believe he would ever see again.”
After multiple surgeries, Crenshaw regained sight in his remaining eye, and deployed overseas two more times.
The SNL sketch prompted immediate blowback. Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, released a statement Sunday mocking Davidson, who recently broke up with his girlfriend, pop star Ariana Grande.
“Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country,” the statement said. “Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every weekend – because they’re not laughing.”
Crenshaw’s opponent also seemed to condemn the sketch.
“No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, Dan’s military service and sacrifice for our country are to be admired and appreciated. Period,” Litton wrote on Twitter.