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Republicans Condemn Explosive Devices Sent to Clintons, Obamas

Ryan, Scalise among those who quickly responded to threats

Framed New Orleans Saints and Louisiana State University jerseys hang on the wall of Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, a big Drew Brees fan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Framed New Orleans Saints and Louisiana State University jerseys hang on the wall of Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, a big Drew Brees fan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

High-profile Republicans in Congress moved quickly to denounce political violence aimed at Democrats on Wednesday, even as some of their colleagues across the aisle blamed President Donald Trump for working the nation into a frenzy. 

Suspicious packages, potentially containing explosive devices, were intercepted at the homes of the Clintons and Obamas and at CNN’s headquarters. Democratic donor George Soros had a similar package sent to him this week.

Whip Steve Scalise, who has seen violence in politics first-hand, was among the first lawmakers to weigh in. When a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice for congressional Republicans in June 2017, he sustained a severe hip injury.

[Suspicious Package Cases Grow, Debbie Wasserman Schultz First Known Congressional Target]

The Louisiana Republican has emerged as a leading critic of aggressive rhetoric in political campaigns, even within his own party. Earlier this month he called out a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania who threatened to “stomp all over” his opponent’s face while wearing golf spikes.

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who received threatening calls from a man in Arizona earlier this year, called the threats “absolutely despicable. Despicable. It’s disgusting.”

“You know there’s a guy serving in jail right now for threatening to kill me. These people need to be held accountable. This is not the way for us to sort out our differences and it’s just absolutely wrong and despicable,” the Senate hopeful told reporters after a tour of a the Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, Ariz., on Wednesday.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other prominent Republicans also took to Twitter.

Meanwhile, some Democrats saw in the attacks a reflection of what the Republican Party has become.

Rep. David E. Price blamed Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, tweeting “Words matter. Leadership matters. This is the country @realDonaldTrump has created, and he must condemn such acts of terrorism in the strongest terms.”

Appeals to the American way, regardless of party, were a common thread for Republicans. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina called for citizens to “settl[e] things at the ballot box,” while Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said any attack on a Democrat, Republican or independent “is an attack on America.”

Some Republicans described a disintegrating political climate and warned of what will happen if, as Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas put it, Americans “bend to the political passions of the moment.” This sort of “violent expression cannot be our future,” he wrote.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who is locked in a tough re-election race in Texas and was once a prime target of Trump’s derision, called for civility and respect.

Others stressed law and order. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said law enforcement will “hunt down the criminals who did this,” while Sen. John Thune thanked first responders who rushed to the scenes.




Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.


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