Leading Montana newspapers pull endorsements of Greg Gianforte

Montana scuffle

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- The frontrunner for a Congressional seat in Montana was charged with assault after allegedly attacking a reporter. 

On Thursday, Republican Greg Gianforte lost the endorsements of the leading newspapers in Montana. 

Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs said the encounter with Congressional candidate Gianforte started when he said, "You were waiting to make your decision about healthcare until you saw the bill that just came out." 

Jacobs says Gianforte then cut him off by saying, "Ya, let me talk to you about that later." 

The encounter escalated and eventually got physical. It ended with Gianforte shouting, "I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!" 

Jacobs responded by saying, "You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses." 

GOP candidate in Montana charged with assault

A campaign spokesman said it was the reporter who grabbed Gianforte's wrist, calling it in a statement "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist." 

But Alicia Acuna, a reporter from the usually conservative Fox News, was an eyewitness. 

"When Gianforte grabbed him by the neck, both hands, um slid him to the side, body-slammed him and then got on top of him, and started punching and then um yelling at him," Acuna said. 

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan did not endorse the candidate's actions. 

"That is wrong and it should not have happened," Ryan said. "I think he should apologize." 

 The frontrunner for a Congressional seat in Montana was charged with assault after allegedly attacking a reporter.  CBS News

Gianforte has disappeared. He was last seen driving away from the incident and cancelled all appearances Thursday.

As for voters, Elizabeth Green said a Congressional candidate should act the way she teaches her son, Sam, to act. 

"Like I tell my son, it's important to keep your hands to yourself and to use your words," she said. "And if a candidate for Congress can't do that, then he definitely doesn't deserve to have that position."

Doug Steiner voted for Gianforte. The incident did not change his mind.

"I've heard too many versions of it," Steiner said. "I'm not sure what happened. No offense, but I don't trust the media much."

If convicted, Gianforte faces a $500 fine or six months in jail, or both. So far, no Republican has called for him to withdraw from the race or if convicted, to not take the seat.