“I’m sure people like to talk about anything except what the Democrats have done to this country,” Emmer said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Debate over the role of political rhetoric in the attack on Paul Pelosi, whose author soaked up online misinformation about 2020 election fraud and other conspiracy theories, dominated the airwaves on Sunday. On both sides of the aisle, key players broadly condemned the violence — though they openly disagreed on the root causes, with some Republicans saying Democratic policies were playing a role.
“You can’t say that people who say ‘fire Pelosi’ or ‘take the house back’ are saying ‘go violent.’ It’s just unfair,” McDaniel said on “Fox News Sunday.” She blamed the attack on Paul Pelosi on rising crime which she sought to link to Nancy Pelosi’s party: “If it wasn’t for Paul Pelosi, that criminal would probably be on the streets tomorrow… is what the Democratic policies bring.”
Pressed in a tense exchange by CBS host Margaret Brennan, Emmer said he disagreed that his “#FirePelosi” set video may have been suggestive or risque.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, separately suggested on CNN that the “horrendous” violence was partly the result of lower public confidence in the election. (Officials on both sides of the aisle, including Trump-era Attorney General William Barr, claimed President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory was unaffected by widespread voter fraud.)
“Be poll watchers, so you can see the election is going to be fair,” Scott told voters. He also cited the beating last week of a solicitor for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who didn’t initially say he believed the attack was political but revised that. in later reports.
Poll monitoring is not a new practice, but it is increasingly up with conservatives and was described as disruptive by some election officials in this cycle. Scott then called out former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams for suggesting that Republicans were undermining the election.
The assailant, David DePape, broke into the Pelosi family home in San Francisco early Friday morning and attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer, San Francisco police said. He shouted “Where’s Nancy?” during the invasion, according to police.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott described the attack as “not a random act,” but police have yet to specify a motive. DePape had close ties to him when he walked into the Pelosi home, according to a person briefed on the investigation, something CNN first reported.
For three straight days, Republicans have unfurled Democratic fury that the attack on the Speaker of the House’s husband was linked to their incendiary rhetoric – and laser focus on Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) linked the violence to election denial and intimidation on Sunday, saying too many Republicans have failed to speak up on the issue.
“[Nancy Pelosi] was reviled for years, and – big surprise – it went viral, and it got violent,” Klobuchar said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk released misinformation about the Paul Pelosi attack on Sunday morning, adding new weight to Democrats’ concerns about whether false claims could gain a foothold on the platform under Twitter’s ownership. Musk. Later that day, Musk deleted the tweet.
Asked if the attack means Republicans should tone down their rhetoric in attack ads leading up to next week’s midterm elections, Gov. Chris Sununu (RN.H.) said: ” I don’t think attack ads are necessary.”
“Ignore the elections. She is going to be well re-elected,” Sununu said on NBC. “I mean, let’s just make sure she and her family are safe.” Security should also be extended to other members of Congress, Sununu said.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) noted that former President Donald Trump has yet to publicly condemn the attack on Paul Pelosi.
“All of us, in the wake of this attack on Paul Pelosi, have to say we’re going to stop demonizing people,” Coons said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Violent rhetoric “can lead to violence from a small number of Americans who believe that when we portray our political opponents as our enemies, we are calling to attack them,” he added.
Notably, a retired Republican serving on the Jan. 6 select committee aligned himself with Democrats by directly linking the attack to ideas advanced by other members of his party.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has frequently broken with the rest of the GOP in speaking out against denying the election, wrote on Twitter Friday: “[W]When you convince people that politicians are rigging elections, drinking baby blood, etc., you will get violence” – a reference to conspiracy theories embraced by some on the far right.
Kinzinger too called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for his relatively muted audience response on the attack, and said every Republican candidate and official should “speak up.”
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.