Democrats lash out at GOP after Pelosi assault
Some are accusing Republican leaders of sidestepping the rising threat of political violence for years.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2022. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
By SARAH FERRIS
10/29/2022 12:02 PM EDT
Updated: 10/29/2022 05:10 PM EDT
A growing number of Democrats are openly blaming Republicans for failing to rein in a rise in violent rhetoric in the wake of an assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who survived with serious injuries.
“A far right white nationalist tried to assassinate the Speaker of the House and almost killed her husband a year after violent insurrectionists tried to find her and kill her in the Capitol,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said on Saturday morning. “And the Republican Party’s response is to either ignore it or belittle it.”
As police continue to investigate the attack, several of Pelosi’s fellow Democrats are pointing fingers at their opponents in Congress — accusing Republican leaders of largely sidestepping the issue of political violence and rising threats for years. Some also called out what they saw as a lackluster public response to the assault, including from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Yesterday, a man sharing that member’s rhetoric tried to assassinate the Speaker and her spouse,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday morning. Then, referring to McCarthy, she wrote: “What has @GOPLeader said? Nothing. This is who he is.”
In the hours after Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was assaulted, dozens of Republicans — from former Vice President Mike Pence to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — condemned the attack and wished him a quick recovery.
The response from McConnell’s House GOP counterpart was more muted. Rather than McCarthy issuing a statement himself, a spokesman for the GOP leader provided statements to reporters when asked, but none that have yet been posted to his social media accounts as other Republicans did. (A McCarthy spokesman said on Friday: “Leader McCarthy reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he’s praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant.”)
On Saturday, McCarthy expanded on that statement in an interview with Breitbart radio, condemning the violence and saying what happened to Paul Pelosi was “wrong.”
“I reached out to the Speaker. I called her, I know she was on a plane to California, but I was able to text with her to tell her about our prayers for Paul. Thankfully he’s gonna be OK,” McCarthy said.
“But thankfully the attacker — he’s a deranged individual — but thankfully he is arrested,” he continued. “And we’ve watched this with Lee Zeldin, we’ve watched this with Supreme Court Justices, this is wrong — violence should not go. You watch what happened to Steve Scalise and others. This has got to stop.”
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 House Republican, offered a more forceful response Friday, tweeting from his account: “Disgusted to hear about the horrific assault on Speaker Pelosi’s husband Paul” before adding: “Let’s be clear: Violence has no place in this country.”
Political violence is personal for Scalise. He suffered life-threatening injuries after a politically motivated gunman opened fire on Scalise and a group of other House Republicans who were practicing for the congressional baseball game in 2017. The third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), also issued a statement, calling for the assailant to “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Biden on Pelosi attack: ‘Enough is enough’Share
Both Omar and Ocasio-Cortez are among the GOP’s most popular political targets, often appearing alongside Pelosi in attack ads against Democrats. All three women have spoken about the escalation of threats they’ve faced in the Donald Trump era.
For Ocasio-Cortez, that included an anime video created last year by a fellow member of Congress, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), that shows him killing her. Gosar was later censured by the House, and while McCarthy privately told members it was wrong, he did not vote to punish his colleague.
In her Saturday tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said: “@