Rep. Lee Zeldin sent a sarcastic tweet invoking San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after police arrested a suspect in the Chelsea bombing Monday.
“Suspect in custody. You are welcome Colin Kaepernick,” the Shirley Republican’s campaign account, @leezeldin, tweeted shortly after Ahmad Khan Rahami’s capture in Linden, New Jersey.
It was one of three caustic tweets that Zeldin’s congressional campaign blasted out Monday.
Kaepernick has sparked controversy for refusing to stand for the national anthem before football games to protest the treatment of minorities by police.
Zeldin said the arrest highlighted the important job of law enforcement. “I’m insulted and disgusted when someone refuses to say the pledge or stand for the national anthem,” he said in a statement.
The other two tweets echoed the Republican position that Democrats are wrong not to identify such terrorism as “radical Islamic extremism.” Democrats dismissed that critique as “a political talking point.”
About 15 minutes later, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) posted his own tweet — though he did not mention Zeldin by name or indicate which public officials he was criticizing. The timing, however, was interesting.
“The swift apprehension of Rahami is a tribute to smart law enforcement,” Israel tweeted. “What isn’t smart is the hysteria of some public officials.”
In an email, Israel said, “I wasn’t aware of Lee’s tweet. But I really believe that in the face of terror, it’s better to show strength and unity than politics and divisiveness.”
Zeldin faces a competitive re-election battle against former Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, a Democrat.
Responding to Zeldin’s tweet about Kaepernick, Throne-Holst said, “We need representatives who will bring people together, not act with divisiveness in response to national security threats.”
The 1st Congressional District includes eastern Suffolk County.