U.S. leaders denounce violent rhetoric in wake of Paul Pelosi attack; some Republicans defensive

Leaders across the political spectrum on Sunday denounced violent rhetoric in politics — with some marked exceptions.

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida decried Friday’s assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, though another member of his party defended his own violent language about the Democratic leader.

“It’s disgusting. This violence is horrible,” Scott said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This stuff has to stop.”

Paul Pelosi’s alleged attacker David DePape reportedly spread far-right conspiracy theories prior to the assault.

Asked Sunday whether Republican leaders should take a stand against conspiracy theories like the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, Scott dodged the question.

“What we have to do is … condemn the violence,” the senator said. “We have to do everything we can to make sure people feel comfortable about these elections.”

It emerged Sunday that DePape had carried zip ties with him when he entered the Pelosis’ San Francisco home and demanded to know “where is Nancy?” — an apparent echo of the Jan. 6, 2021 siege of the U.S. Capitol, in which crazed Trump supporters stormed Congress and some unsuccessfully tried to find the speaker.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel rejected Democrats’ suggestions that violent GOP rhetoric led to last week’s attack.

“You can’t say people saying ‘fire Pelosi’ or ‘take back the House’ is saying ‘go do violence,’” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s just unfair.”

Republican Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota was taken to task Sunday for posting a campaign video in which he fired a gun at a shooting range and included the hashtag #FirePelosi.

“Enjoyed exercising my Second Amendment rights,” he tweeted Wednesday. “13 days to make history. Let’s #FirePelosi.”

Emmer insisted Sunday the video was about “exercising our Second Amendment rights, having fun.”

“That’s not a debate about the Second Amendment,” moderator Margaret Brennan retorted.

“Do you not understand that that is suggestive to people who are in a bad state?” she asked Emmer, who chairs the House GOP’s campaign arm.

“Well, I disagree,” he said as he tried to change the topic to violence against Republicans.

While top GOP officials like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have condemned the attack on Paul Pelosi, Trump has remained silent about the assault.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware on Sunday criticized the former president for staying mute.

“Leaders of both parties — but so far not President Trump — have decried the attack on Paul Pelosi,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“All of us in the wake of this attack on Paul Pelosi need to say that we are going to stop demonizing folks, because … the sort of rhetoric that we’ve heard in too many ways in too many places can lead to violence by a small number of Americans who think that, when we describe our political opponents as our enemies, we’re calling for them to be attacked,” Coons added.

Last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi came as Democrats are fighting to maintain control of Congress in the Nov. 8 elections.

Extremists foaming at the mouth over election falsehoods “pose a heightened threat” to the midterms, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies said Friday.

The biggest menace comes from “lone offenders who leverage election-related issues to justify violence,” according to a memo from the agencies.

With News Wire Services