Democrats and Republicans traded blame over the weekend for the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband, and the rise of political violence more broadly.
Paul Pelosi was attacked in his home Friday by an intruder who was allegedly looking for the Speaker and wielding a hammer, prompting some Democrats to call out their Republican counterparts for their fiery rhetoric against the California lawmaker.
Republicans have by and large condemned the violence, but many have also blamed Democratic policies for emboldening would-be criminals.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Sunday put blame on Democrat policies for an uptick in violence against political figures.
“If this weren’t Paul Pelosi, this criminal would probably be out on the street tomorrow,” McDaniel said on “Fox News Sunday” with host Shannon Bream.
“We saw Lee Zeldin’s attacker was on the street right after he attacked him. This is what Democrat policies are bringing,” McDaniel said, referring to an attack earlier this year at a campaign event for New York gubernatorial nominee and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R).
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote on Twitter Friday that she was “praying for Paul Pelosi” but added that “violence and crime are rampant in Joe Biden’s America.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) hit back, writing “YOU called for Nancy Pelosi to be executed, @RepMTG. YOU said she should be hung for treason. And now that someone listened, you’re making Paul Pelosi’s attack about YOU. This is what Republicans stand for, America. It’s sick.”
Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., when her 82-year-old husband was attacked at their California home, but the intruder allegedly called for the Speaker as he entered the home, shouting “Where is Nancy?” — a call reminiscent of the chants of rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Paul Pelosi after the attack underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other significant injuries to his arm and hands, according to the Speaker’s spokesperson.
The attack has put some Republicans on the defensive over their rhetoric toward Pelosi in campaign ads.
Just two days before the attacks, Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.), the chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, shared a video of himself shooting a firearm with a call to “#FirePelosi” included in the caption.
The Minnesota lawmaker argued with CBS’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday, dismissing her suggestion that the Tweet could be read as an incitement to violence.
“I disagree,” Emmer said.
“A Bernie Sanders supporter shot Steve Scalise,” he added. “I never heard you or anyone else in the media trying to blame Democrats for what happened.”
In a speech to Pennsylvania Democrats Friday, President Biden highlighted the danger of extreme GOP rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
“What makes us think that one party can talk about stolen elections, COVID being a hoax, that it’s all a bunch of lies, and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced? What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” Biden asked.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) in a Saturday night appearance on CNN said people in both parties should “tone down the rhetoric,” sidestepping direct questions about his GOP colleagues.
“[Nancy Pelosi] is demonized, as is Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, and I’m sure Kevin McCarthy when he becomes Speaker will be demonized. It’s a terrible environment and I believe people in both parties are guilty of intense rhetoric that really leads to- feed into these people who are deranged and create violence,” Comer said.
“We need to try to do better in both parties, myself included,” he added.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Sunday called the attack on Paul Pelosi “disgusting” and “despicable.”
“We’ve got to figure out how to bring our country back together where we have a civil conversation and we have no violence,” Scott told co-anchor Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We have to condemn the violence, and then we have to do everything we can to make sure people feel comfortable about these elections,” the Florida senator added.
Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Sunday encouraged both parties to “put all the politics aside.”
“I don’t think there’s any need for the attack ads, and, again, you know, right now, all our thoughts and prayers and sympathy have to go out to Nancy Pelosi, her entire family, her husband, of course,” Sununu said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“President Biden and Democrats have stood behind law enforcement and strengthening protections for those in public life. That’s what I think we should be focusing on in this moment, when leaders of both parties — but so far not President Trump — have decried the attack on Paul Pelosi,” Coons said in an interview with host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.”
Talking to reporters Saturday night, Biden appeared to call out members of the GOP who condemn the violent incident without condemning the rhetoric propagated by their own party.
“It’s one thing to condemn the violence. But you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn those people who are arguing that the election is not real… Condemn what produces the violence,” Biden said.