Leading up to attack, GOP and its allies spent $50 million on anti-Pelosi ads

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen from the back.
While Republican ads do not condone violence, many use battle rhetoric that portrays House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as an enemy.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Republicans and allied groups nationwide pumped about $50million this election cycle into campaign ads invoking, condemning or demonizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to an analysis from AdImpact.

In comparison, a total of $45million was spent in 2020 for House campaign advertisements featuring anti-Pelosi references, the ad-tracking firm said.

Democrats say Republicans’ long history of singling out the most powerful woman in Congress, coupled with the GOP’s embrace of election denialism and conspiracy theories, contributed to the brutal attack that left Pelosi’s husband, Paul, hospitalized after an assailant broke into their San Francisco home on Friday.


On Monday, the Justice Department charged David DePape, the man arrested at the scene, with assault and attempted kidnapping.

Authorities said he hit Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer before being restrained by officers. Police recovered tape, a rope, a second hammer, rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties from the crime scene.

San Francisco police said DePape told them he had planned to take Speaker Pelosi hostage, letting her go if she told the “truth” but breaking her kneecaps if she “lied.” The speaker was in Washington at the time.

Friday’s attack on Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, is the most recent example of the country’s increasing political violence.

Oct. 30, 2022

“The attack on Paul Pelosi shows the real and violent consequences of conspiracy theories and the millions of dollars Republicans have spent targeting Speaker Pelosi,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-San Diego). “Elected officials sign up to be in the public eye, but that doesn’t mean we signed up for death threats, harassment and violence — and it certainly doesn’t mean that for our loved ones.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel rejected the notion that GOP ads were responsible for the attack.

“You can’t say people saying, ‘Let’s fire Pelosi’ or ‘Let’s take back the House’ is saying, ‘Go do violence,’” McDaniel said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s just unfair.”


On Friday, the day of the attack, Speaker Pelosi was featured in nearly $1.3million worth of ads, including 97 spots that collectively aired on television over 3,000 times that day.

Many of the ads use battle rhetoric that portrays her as an enemy in a fight over the nation’s future.

According to transcripts of GOP ads, Speaker Pelosi’s “failed policies are destroying the American dream,” she has “declared war on working Americans,” and her agenda is “radical.” Some ads call for “strength to fight [President] Biden, Pelosi and the woke mob” while promoting Republican candidates’ ability to take them on.

The McCarthy Victory Fund, operated by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to help GOP campaigns, has also run ads invoking Pelosi.

“What has one year of Democrat-controlled Washington given us? Shortages, inflation, crime, chaos, division and failure,” McCarthy says in one ad. “We can end one-party rule, fire Nancy Pelosi and take our country back.”

McCarthy has come under fire for failing to issue a strong public statement condemning the attack on Paul Pelosi. A spokesperson released a statement to reporters who requested one, saying, “Leader McCarthy reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he’s praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant.”


Last year, McCarthy joked at a Tennessee fundraiser that if he succeeds Pelosi as speaker, when she turns over the ceremonial gavel to him, it “will be hard not to hit her with it.”

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, responded at the time that a “threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting.”