House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday called it “a very slippery slope” to place blame on President Donald Trump’s rhetoric following deadly mass shootings in recent weeks.
The Louisiana Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “there’s no place” for attacks based on someone’s ethnicity.
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“But to try to assign blame to somebody else, I think is a very slippery slope because the president’s no more responsible for that shooting as your next guest, Bernie Sanders, is for my shooting,” said Scalise, who was shot in June 2017 during a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
“And he’s not, by the way, responsible. The shooter is responsible,” Scalise added. (Scalise was gravely wounded in the attack but has recovered to return to continue to serve in the House.)
Sanders (I-Vt.) also appeared Sunday on CBS. The Democratic presidential candidate said Trump “does not want to see” someone get shot, but he said Trump’s rhetoric “creates a climate where we are seeing a significant increase in hate crimes in this country — hate crimes against Muslims, against Mexicans, against Jews.”
“He is creating the kind of divisiveness in this nation that is the last thing that we should be doing,” Sanders said. “So, he creates the climate. But do I think that he wants to see somebody get shot? Absolutely not.”
Several Democratic candidates for president, including former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, have placed blame on Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric following two recent shootings.
The suspect in the attack in El Paso, Texas — a 21-year-old white man — is believed to have posted a manifesto online shortly before the shooting, warning of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
“What we need to do is find out those people that have slipped through the cracks,” Scalise said Sunday. “… Let’s make sure these background check systems work properly and are rooting out the people that shouldn’t be able to legally purchase a gun but currently are because the system hasn’t worked.”
Scalise was asked Sunday whether he has advised the president to reconsider some of his words that might be considered inflammatory, but responded by saying Trump “was very clear just the other day that there’s no place for this.”
O’Rourke, however, appeared Sunday on CNN where he said the people of El Paso told him: “They didn’t want to see the president.”
They understand Trump is part of the problem, O’Rourke said, citing the president’s warnings of infestations and his description of El Paso as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
“For him then to focus on comparing political rallies, or on himself or on how much people love him, just shows you how sick this guy is and how unfit for this office,” O’Rourke said. “He should be consoling people, bringing people together, focusing on their pain and improving their lives, but instead he is focused on himself.”