Newt Gingrich suggests slain Iowa student could help GOP in midterms

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) reportedly said the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts could be politically advantageous to Republicans heading into the November midterm elections.

“If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble,” he told Axios in an article published Wednesday. “If we can be blocked by Manafort-Cohen, etc., then GOP could lose [the House] badly.”

Police allege that an undocumented immigrant killed Tibbetts, who was a student at the University of Iowa. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in connection with the death of Tibbetts, 20, who had been missing for more than a month before authorities discovered her body this week.

{mosads}Some conservatives and Republicans, including President Trump, have pointed to Tibbetts’s death as evidence that the U.S. needs stronger borders.

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Trump said at a campaign rally Tuesday in West Virginia. “Should’ve never happened. … The laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting it changed, but we have to get more Republicans.”

But some in Tibbetts’s family have said Tibbetts wouldn’t want her death to be politicized.

Samantha Lucas, a second cousin of Tibbetts, told CNN in an interview published Thursday that though she didn’t know Tibbetts well, she knew her well enough to believe that “she would not want this to be used as fuel against undocumented immigrants.”

Billie Jo Calderwood, Tibbetts’s aunt, appeared to push back against those who have used the death to push for immigration reform.

“I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics,” Calderwood told CNN.

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