The shooting Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice prompted swift calls to ratchet down the country’s heated political rhetoric, with one Republican congressman who was at the scene saying the “hateful rhetoric” on both sides has to stop.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., specifically blamed “political rhetorical terrorism” – heated rhetoric on social media and in the news – for Wednesday’s shooting, in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others were wounded.
“This is the result, I believe, of political rhetorical terrorism. That has to stop,” he told “America’s Newsroom.”
According to a well-placed source, the suspect has been identified as Illinois resident James T. Hodgkinson.
Davis was at bat when the shooter opened fire in Alexandria, Va. He credited Scalise’s security detail with helping prevent the attack from being a lot worse, calling the officers “true heroes.”
But he said the country needs to take ratchet down the political discourse.
“Political rhetoric has led to this violent type of activity that has got to stop in this country,” Davis said.
He and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the Senate floor, both noted this was practice for a bipartisan charity event.
Davis expressed disbelief that this type of event would be targeted.
The vitriol of political rhetoric has been increasing for years, but has been particularly high under the Trump administration.
Davis stressed, though, that many bills are still passed on a bipartisan basis and some of his best friends “are on the other side of the aisle.”
“I stand here today and say stop, we have to stop,” Davis said, urging the country to come together as Americans, not Republicans and Democrats.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., also said this is the time to come together.
“We’ve seen ourselves engulfed by the spirit of division and oppression and we have to find a way to crawl our way out of this hole,” he said.