Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens tangle on Twitter over nuclear testing

(Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP) In this image from video, congressional candidate and former NFL player Burgess Owens speaks from Washington, during the third night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.

A Twitter tussle over nuclear testing and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard erupted between Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams and Republican Burgess Owens on Tuesday.

Alliteration aside, the foofaraw started when Owens took to the social media platform to express his displeasure with one of McAdams' campaign ads hitting the Republican challenger for saying during an interview that he supported President Donald Trump’s plan to resume nuclear weapons testing.

Owens began by retweeting a post from Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who called the McAdams ad “without any factual basis.” Owens then followed that up saying McAdams has “obviously been in politics too long if his moral compass is OK with such dishonest fear-mongering.”

Later, he attacked McAdams, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the issue.

In the ad, Owens is asked during a radio interview whether he would “absolutely” support Trump’s efforts to resume nuclear testing. His answer is dubbed over footage of mushroom clouds going off during above-ground nuclear testing. Owens' campaign later clarified he did not support nuclear testing in Utah or Nevada.

So, how did Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard enter the discussion?

After the Owens and Gosar tweets, Gabbard praised McAdams and criticized Owens on Twitter, saying she “worked with @BenMcAdams in Congress to stop new plans to test nuclear weapons in Utah’s backyard. @BurgessOwens said he ‘absolutely’ supports resuming explosive nuclear weapons tests that poisoned & killed so many Utahns. That’s dangerous and wrong.”

In July, McAdams led the charge to pass an amendment in the House prohibiting funding for testing new nuclear weapons.

Owens shot back at Gabbard “find one time ANYONE mentioned explosive nuclear testing. It’s been banned since the 60′s.”

The rebuke from Gabbard has to sting Owens. He’s been active on Twitter praising the Hawaii Democrat, who unsuccessfully ran for president this year. Just last week he applauded Gabbard for her post commemorating the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In August during the Democratic National Convention, Owens was one of Gabbard’s biggest cheerleaders online, waxing wistfully about her failed presidential bid.

McAdams himself weighed in on the controversy Tuesday, posting a thread to Twitter, discussing the impact nuclear testing in the 1960s had on Utah.

“Since @BurgessOwens has only lived here a few years, I’m not surprised he doesn’t understand the price Utahns paid for the government’s lies about explosive nuclear weapons testing.”

Owens defended himself once again, saying McAdams was “ignoring facts in the name of political grandstanding.”

You can expect the race between McAdams and Owens to get much more heated in the final two months of the 2020 campaign. A Deseret News poll released Monday showed McAdams with a four percentage point lead over Owens, 45-41% with 11% undecided. The candidates and outside groups are spending millions of dollars on advertising in the contest.

The first televised debate between McAdams and Owens is scheduled for Oct. 12.