Gibbs: Those comparing Dems to Nazis 'on thin ice'

As violent confrontations and controversial rhetoric surrounding healthcare town hall meetings escalated, the White House on Friday called for civility.

At congressional members' town hall meetings around the country, opponents and supporters of Obama's policies have increasingly clashed, leading White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to condemn the violence and comparisons of the Democratic Party to Nazis.

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"We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized," Gibbs said.

Despite reports that David Axelrod, Obama's top political strategist, and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina told Democrats to hit back at protesters, Gibbs said his advice to town hall participants is to "behave themselves like your mom would tell you to do."

Gibbs said the president has seen reports about some violent confrontations. Six people were arrested and a conservative activist, Kenneth Gladney, was hospitalized after being attacked at a town hall hosted by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) in St. Louis on Thursday.

Specifically addressing the Nazi comparisons, Gibbs cautioned that such rhetoric had no place in civil discourse.

"Anytime you make references to what happened in Germany in the '30s and '40s, I think you're talking about an event that has no equivalent," Gibbs said. "I think anytime anyone ventures to compare anything to that, they're on thin ice and it's best not deployed."

On his Thursday talk show, radio host Rush Limbaugh asked, "Now what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany?"

He answered that the Nazis, like the Democrats, were against big business, "and course we all know they were opposed to Jewish capitalism."

"They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables, as we all know," Limbaugh continued. "It is liberalism that's the closest you can get to Nazis."

Republicans have charged that Democrats and the White House have been equally guilty of introducing harsh rhetoric to the debates.

When asked about that, Gibbs said he thinks "the best thing to do is take the temperature down a bit."