Cantor: Democrats 'Fanning Flames' With Talk of Partisan Violence

Thursday, 25 Mar 2010 06:55 PM

By David A. Patten

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Republicans and grass-roots conservatives pushed back hard Thursday against the notion that tea party activists are dangerous, violent fanatics, as some Democrats have suggested following Sunday's controversial vote on reforming healthcare.

On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told the media that at least 10 members of Congress had received serious threats in the days following the House vote. The FBI announced it was launching an investigation.

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The Associated Press says the FBI is schooling Democrats on how to respond to threats. It adds that windows were shattered at four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona, and Kansas.

Republican leaders, including Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, have condemned the reported acts. "That's not the American way," Boehner said Wednesday. "We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change."

Tea party leaders have universally condemned the use of threats and slurs as well.

Republicans are also pushing back against what they see as the rather transparent effort by some Democrats to use the incidents as a political tool to discredit the grassroots movement.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Minority Whip, charged Thursday that Democrats are "fanning the flames" over the threats.

Cantor said he avoids any mention of threatens, because they only encourage the offenders. He made an exception however to relate that a bullet struck a window in his office building on Monday. He says he has also received threats related to his faith background (Cantor is Jewish).

cantor.jpg Cantor told the media he has "deep concerns that some, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon."

In another incident, the Politico Web site reported Thursday morning that a casket was placed on the lawn of Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo. The obvious implication: The casket was intended as a personal threat of violence against Carnahan.

A spokesman for Carnahan, Jim Hubbard, said the demonstration outside of Carnahan's office and home was way "over the line."

Video of the protest from KDSK television conveyed a quite different image, however. The activists conducted a candlelight vigil and prayer ceremony, expressing their remorse that the vote on healthcare would endanger the lives of the unborn -- the symbolic message conveyed by the coffin, apparently. Several appeared to be seniors, and there was none of the shouting or name-calling that has marred the decorum of some other protests.

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh commented on his program Thursday that the reports of threats and violence largely amount to a "false storyline" intended to distract from the looming impact of the president's reforms.

"This health care legislation is the real death threat in this scenario," he said. "The American people don't want their liberties diminished, folks. They don't want their way of life legislated out of existence. They don't want their hard-earned property stolen from them. Of course they're angry."

Special: Do You Back Obama's Healthcare Plan? Vote Here Now!

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