The shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise likely will test Sen. Bernie Sanders' left-wing populist movement, The New York Times is reporting.
Suspected gunman James Hodgkinson was a former volunteer for the Sanders presidential campaign, the newspaper noted. Hodgkinson died after being shot in a gun battle at an Alexandria, Va., baseball field where Republican lawmakers were practicing for a charity baseball game.
Sanders said Wednesday that he was "sickened by this despicable act."
In the past, Sanders has called President Donald Trump a "demagogue" and "perhaps the worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country."
But the shooting, which left four wounded, may prove to be a test for Sanders' progressive movement "and a moment for liberals to figure out how to balance anger at Mr. Trump with inciting violence," the Times' Yamiche Alcindor wrote.
Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who campaigned for Sanders in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said: "Both sides need to look in the mirror."
And Turner, who is working on a new think tank started by the Vermont senator's wife, added: "We have to decide what kind of language we are going to use in our political discourse."
In Facebook postings, Hodgkinson had made it very clear of his admiration for Sanders.
In the past year, many of his posts consisted of signed petitions with titles such as: "Bernie -- please run no matter what" and "Hillary Rodham Clinton should concede the nomination to Bernie Sanders;" CNN reported.
Harlan Hill, a New York-based political consultant and Trump supporter, said no one should blame Sanders personally. However, he said the senator's description of Trump created a combustible political atmosphere, according to the Times.
"It is a passive justification for the kind of violence we saw," Hill said. "If you don't believe that, and you're just casually using these words, then you should accept the consequence of those words, because you are empowering the people that follow you to take whatever sort of action that they deem necessary, to avert what is being described to them as a potential genocidal leader,"
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