Some in GOP say threats of violence against them ignored
WASHINGTON (AP) — Whatever the motive of the shooter at a congressional baseball practice, some Republicans say that in the era of President Donald Trump, they’re being threatened like never before.
They point to a virulent backlash against Trump that they say goes beyond the bounds of moderate political dissent and — subtly or not — encourages violence.
“I’ve been saying, ‘What is it going to take for this to get some visibility,'” said Charlie Kirk, a young conservative activist. “And now here we are.”
During a news conference at the shooting scene Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declined to comment about whether America’s political climate could be a factor. But he said, “There’s too much, I believe, raw discourse that’s pulling people apart.”
The gunman, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, opened fire Wednesday on Republican lawmakers and associates practicing baseball in a Virginia suburb of Washington. A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and several others were wounded, Scalise critically. Trump said the gunman had been killed.
Police haven’t stated a motive. But Hodgkinson’s strong anti-Republican stances and background as a former volunteer on Bernie Sanders campaign only added to suggestions that the shooting was politically motivated.
Such an assessment could be premature. Some initially attributed the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, to intense partisanship, though no clear motive emerged at the gunman’s trial.
Speaking from the White House after the shooting, Trump called for unity and avoided singling out Democrats. Yet prominent Republicans, including Trump’s children, have long been unsettled by the rage against the president. Daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump said in a recent television interview that she did not expect the “viciousness” and “ferocity” of her father’s critics.