Darren Bailey, a Trump-endorsed Republican candidate running for governor of Illinois, was criticized on Monday for saying, “Let’s move on and celebrate,” during remarks he made in the aftermath of the deadly 4th of July shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.
In a Facebook live post from Skokie, Illinois, two hours after the shooting began, Bailey called for prayers for the victims, families and law enforcement. In particular though, his follow-up remark, “Let’s move on and celebrate the independence of this nation,” struck a wrong note with some in the light of six deaths.
In response, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tweeted: “Happy 4th of July from @DarrenBaileyIL Trump’s soulless candidate for governor of Illinois. After a mass shooting miles away Bailey sums up the @GOP: ‘let’s move on and celebrate the independence of this nation.’ To hell with him and all who support him.”
On Facebook, one commenter wrote, “‘Let’s move on’ that’s what he had to say?? That’s the problem moving on so quickly after these shootings! They don’t need your prayers they need stricter gun laws!!”
Another commented, “This GOP person says let’s move on. Let’s just forget that our children and the rest of us are not safe anywhere in this country. And praying does not do a particle of good.”
Over on Twitter, one social media user tweeted: “Darren Bailey basically went out and said ‘Mass shooting? Who cares, we gotta light fireworks’. Absolutely not fit to be anywhere near a leadership position.”
Another wrote: “Darren Bailey saying, we still haven’t found the Highland Park shooter, but let’s pray and move on. May just be the most Republican thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”
Still others on the social media site compared Bailey to the mayor in “Jaws,” who infamously said, “I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time.”
Bailey’s campaign released a statement to Vice, addressing his comments that were met with backlash.
“I apologize if in any way we diminished the pain being felt across our state today,” the statement read.
“I am heartbroken by today’s tragic events and the pain and loss felt by so many. My intent was to pray for the victims and those affected by today’s tragedy and for the shooter to be caught and prosecuted without further loss,” he said, per Vice.
“I hope we can all come together in prayer and action to address rampant crime and mental heath [sic] issues to make sure these horrific tragedies don’t happen again.”