The videos were like a virtual ride with Doug Mastriano as he criss-crossed Pennsylvania in the governor’s race, delighting viewers with his far-right musings on climate change, abortion and critics within his own party.
In a live broadcast on Facebook in April, Mr. Mastriano, a Republican senator, called climate change “pop science.”
In a separate video on his social media of a radio interview three days after the Supreme Court overthrown Roe v. Wade in June, he dismissed the issue of abortion rights as a distraction. And when he tried to explain in April why some Republicans wouldn’t support him, Mr. Mastriano, a retired army colonel, attributed it to their “contempt for veterans.”
But now that Mr. Mastriano is the GOP nominee for governor, aided by former President Donald J. Trump’s approval in the primary, he’s shifting to the general election — and those videos are gone.
The removal of the videos from his campaign’s Facebook page was reported earlier Monday by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which listed 14 videos of Mr. Mastriano, one of Pennsylvania’s leading election deniers, who had disappeared since April.
It wasn’t the first time Mr Mastriano has been criticized for what critics say is an attempt to downplay his social media profile. Last year, the group Media Matters for America reported that Mr. Mastriano deleted more than 50 tweets promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory after Media Matters, a journalistic watchdog, highlighted its role in an illegitimate election audit in Pennsylvania.
But the video footage that once appeared on Mr Mastriano’s campaign Facebook page has not completely disappeared. DailyExpertNews obtained the clips Monday from American Bridge, a liberal group that specializes in opposition research, and has archived them.
A campaign spokesman for Mr Mastriano denied in a statement Monday that he had scrubbed his social media accounts of the videos.
“The biased mainstream media is trying to create a scandal, but they haven’t done their homework,” said the spokesperson, who declined to give his name but responded from a campaign email address. “The videos in question were automatically removed by Facebook after 30 days due to a default Facebook setting.”
One of the videos that disappeared was less than 30 days old and was recorded on June 27. And a review from Mr. Mastriano on Monday showed dozens of Facebook Live videos older than 30 days. The campaign did not respond to a follow-up question about why those videos appeared.
At the end of each Facebook Live broadcast, an automatic prompt asks account holders whether they want their video removed after 30 days or remain on their page, the social media company said.
Critics accused Mr Mastriano Monday of trying to distance himself from his extreme views, which they say could alienate voters outside his far-right political base in the general election against Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor and Pennsylvania attorney general.
“Doug Mastriano spends every day smuggling conspiracy theories and reminding voters that his top priority is to outlaw abortion with no exceptions,” said Manuel Bonder, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Shapiro. “No click of the delete button can change the fact that Mastriano is the most extreme, dangerous candidate in Pennsylvania history.”
David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, said Monday that Mr. Mastriano “cannot remove his extreme views”.
“He has absolutely no contact with most Pennsylvania residents, calls for abortions to be banned, smuggles outrageous election conspiracy theories and denies climate change,” said Mr. gymnast.
The Republican Governors Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
In the April 6 Facebook Live broadcast, Mr. Mastriano Governor Tom Wolf, a limited-term Democrat, as he joins Pennsylvania in a regional, multi-state compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, which Mr. Mastriano said this is the state billions.
“For what?” Mr. Mastriano asked rhetorically in the video, attacking Democrats. “For pop science. Let’s talk about climate change. So they stick to this theory. It’s a theory. It’s not a fact. Heck, the weatherman can’t get the weather right, you know, 24 hours outside.
A link to a video on Mr Mastriano’s campaign Facebook page said Monday that the content was no longer available “because the owner only shared it with a small group of people changed who could see it or it was removed.”
In a June 27 Facebook Live video, Mr. Mastriano denounced himself during a radio interview in which he accused Democrats of trying to divert attention from the troubled economy to issues such as abortion rights and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. (He funded buses to take supporters to the rally before the riot.)
“They want us to focus on this and now on the Roe v. Wade decision instead of tackling life,” he said in the video, which was also no longer viewable on his Facebook page.
Mastriano’s claim that the reproductive rights issue was a distraction echoed comments he made three days earlier in Binghamton, NY, where he appeared with Rudolph W. Giuliani and his son, Andrew Giuliani, a failed Republican candidate for governor of New York.