A Republican political gathering on Michigan’s Mackinac Island allegedly turned violent Thursday night with a barroom fight between top officials in the Marco Rubio and Rand Paul presidential campaigns.
According to John Yob, national political director and chief Michigan strategist for the Paul camp, a Rubio strategist punched him in the face at Horn’s Bar, a local watering hole. On Facebook and Twitter Friday, Yob called for the Rubio campaign to immediately fire the strategist in question, Rich Beeson, who also worked as political director to failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
“Last night I went to a bar on Mackinac Island for the GOP Mackinac Conference. I ran into a guy named Rich Beeson, who frankly I didn’t even know who it was at first because he isn’t relevant in our political world,” wrote Yob in a Facebook post early Friday morning. “He literally physically assaulted me by punching me in the face. The state police are looking for him. I have it on video, from multiple angles. This will play out in the national media in the next few hours.”
Yob later followed up on his promise and posted the video, which appears to show one man unexpectedly jabbing another in the face at a crowded bar.
“I am hereby calling on Marco Rubio to fire Rich Beeson effective immediately,” wrote Yob in a separate Facebook post.
The Paul campaign declined to comment on the matter, while the Rubio campaign has not yet responded. Beeson, meanwhile, could not immediately be reached.
In a phone interview with msnbc Friday morning, however, the bar’s owner, Patti Ann Moskwa, poured cold water on the whole account.
“There was no punch, there was nothing,” Moskwa said. “Somebody’s just trying to get more attention. It’s just two babies that can’t get along.”
Moskwa added that the police chief was standing next to her watching the video, and that he agreed there was “nothing to report.” In a separate phone call with the Mackinac Island Police Department, an officer (who refused to give his name, and hung up when pressed ) told msnbc they were following up on an “alleged complaint of an assault.”
“There appears to be a complaint of an altercation, nothing more than that,” the officer said. “We’re following up on it.”
Paul, a senator from Kentucky, is one of six GOP presidential hopefuls slated to address the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference this year. Rubio, a senator from Florida, is not expected to attend.