GOP lawmaker criticizes Nazi talk

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), a member of the House Republican leadership, offered criticism Thursday to those comparing Democratic leaders to Nazis in the healthcare debate.

“I think the purpose of the town halls is for people to be able to express their views in an orderly and respectful manner, and that needs to take place on both sides,” said McMorris Rodgers, the fifth-ranking Republican in the House.

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“I certainly don’t condone violence, I don’t condone calling President Obama Hitler and painting swastikas on signs at town halls,” continued McMorris Rodgers, vice chairwoman of the GOP conference.

McMorris Rodgers is the first member of the House Republican leadership to decry the Nazi comparisons. It follows a week of attacks by the House Democrats’ campaign arm on House Republican leaders, who Democrats say should speak out against Rush Limbaugh’s remarks comparing Democrats to Nazis in the healthcare debate.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has sent out several press releases pressing Republicans to criticize Limbaugh, who said Obama, like Hitler, rules by dictate. Limbaugh has also said there are numerous comparisons between today’s Democrats and Nazi Germany.

David Broder, a columnist for The Washington Post, on Thursday wrote that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), a member of the House Democratic leadership, called him to complain about the GOP silence on Limbaugh.

McMorris Rodgers did not mention Limbaugh in her comments to The Hill, but said both sides should express their views in a “respectful manner” in town halls across the country.

Some Democrats have also used Nazi terminology in the nasty healthcare debate.

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said those disrupting lawmaker town halls were exhibiting “close to Brownshirt tactics.” He apologized on Wednesday, telling The Associated Press he was wrong to use those words.

The Anti-Defamation League last week condemned Limbaugh’s remarks and called those debating the healthcare issue to stop bringing Nazi imagery into the debate.

“Regardless of the political differences and the substantive differences in the debate over healthcare, the use of Nazi symbolism is outrageous, offensive and inappropriate,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director and a Holocaust survivor. “Americans should be able to disagree on the issues without coloring it with Nazi imagery and comparisons to Hitler. This is not where the debate should be at all.”