The Republican candidate who's running unopposed for the Maine legislature deleted his tweets disparaging two Parkland High School survivors.
Leslie Gibson, a lifetime NRA member who's running for the Maine House 57th District, called 18-year-old gun reform activist Emma Gonzalez a "skinhead lesbian" and 17-year-old David Hogg a "bald-faced liar" in the deleted tweets.
Now, he's issued an apology to one of them.
"I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you. It was wrong and unacceptable," Gibson tweeted, apologizing to Gonzalez. "You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you."
Hogg, on the other hand, was not given an apology after Gibson called him a "bald-faced liar."
In typical Trump'ian style, Maine GOP candidate Leslie Gibson launches bigoted, hateful attack on Parkland survivor… https://t.co/SQqQIid8Pu— Bill Madden (@Bill Madden)1520944297.0
Gonzalez, who identifies as bisexual, became a prominent advocate for gun reform after surviving the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The student became nationally revered after her impassioned speech in the wake of the shooting speaking out against lawmakers and the NRA.
An article in The Hill reported that her Twitter account amassed 950,000 followers, exceeding the 585,000 number of followers on the NRA's Twitter account. For Gibson, the young activist's popularity on social media was a threat to his beliefs and ego.
"There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you're a frothing at the mouth moonbat," he tweeted.
@SkowheganGOP You said it was @gibson_house that said that? Like, LESLIE GIBSON, the Tresurer of @AndroGOP? The g… https://t.co/TwMBsdjwzY— Darth Mueller (@Darth Mueller)1520860106.0
Later, Gibson added that Gonzalez isn't a survivor because she was in a "different part of the school."
More: The Maine District 57 candidate @gibson_house may face more heat for ALL of theterrible things he says when… https://t.co/Ge0bItV5L9— Darth Mueller (@Darth Mueller)1520874483.0
Hogg, another survivor of the Parkland shooting, has also become vocal over gun control. When MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked what he thought about a recent Harvard poll showing millennials as being progressive with their views on guns, Hogg said that the polls were "biased" because of the tendency of conservative students being more inclined to participate in the polls.
One thing I think is important to remember about those polls is conservative students and conservative people in the millennial generation are typically a lot more politically active, so the polls may be biased in that way because many students that have more liberal views may just not partake in them.
Gibson called Hogg a "moron" after the student accused NRA national spokeswoman Dana Loesch of controlling congress by working closely with gun manufacturers. Hogg called her a "national propagandist for the NRA" during a CNN interview.
She says that she wants to continue to pass laws, she wants people in Congress to pass laws that help out with mental health and things like that, and she says she can't do that. Are you kidding me? You own these politicians.
Repub Leslie Gibson,Maine's 57th Congress District candidate, called Emma Gonzalez a "skinhead lesbian"&David Hogg… https://t.co/1iTOkbqovC— Barbara Counts (@Barbara Counts)1520946065.0
"Hogg doesn't get a pass when he blatantly lies," Gibson wrote in the deleted tweet.
Gibon's online bullying led to plenty of backlash, which forced him to delete his incendiary tweets and was criticized as a coward for doing so.
GOP Candidate for Maine's 57th Congressional District, Leslie Gibson, tweeted this message in regards to Parkland's… https://t.co/1oE6xdCfgS— Martin Ladera (@Martin Ladera)1520990262.0
People responded to the GOP candidate's apology by expressing their admiration for the brave students.
Meanwhile, the search is on for opponents.
@TrumanChapman27 @SkowheganGOP @gibson_house @AndroGOP @Emma4Change ITS A MAN WHO SAID THIS?!?! We gotta get that g… https://t.co/K1cCN1xoZW— Lu Carolina America❄ (@Lu Carolina America❄)1521030770.0
@TrumanChapman27 @SkowheganGOP @gibson_house @AndroGOP @Emma4Change Leslie is currently the only one running in thi… https://t.co/fML6f2pSjk— PoopOnNRA (@PoopOnNRA)1520942941.0
@TrumanChapman27 @SkowheganGOP @gibson_house @AndroGOP @Emma4Change Is there ANYONE who lives in Maine’s House 57th… https://t.co/JW7zboOUrO— Mac33Cam (@Mac33Cam)1521042265.0
Despite his pressured apology, Gibson claimed he was only standing up for his constitutional rights by insulting the teenagers. He told the Portland Press Herald, "It was not appropriate to single out the Parkland students, but I stand firm in my defense of our constitutional rights."
I will defend Leslie Gibson's 1st Amendment Right to call sweet Emma a skinhead lesbian while exercising my 1st Ame… https://t.co/WeZpkDZaES— 🖕🏻Aunt Crabby calls Bullshit 🖕🏻 (@🖕🏻Aunt Crabby calls Bullshit 🖕🏻)1521023961.0
He later added that once he's elected, he plans to "lead the charge in the protection and preservation of our constitutional rights and our Maine traditions against these attacks."
Democrats have until March 15 to appoint a candidate.