Pence calls for increased civility in political discourse

Vice President Pence called for increased civility in political discourse in an interview that aired Monday on "Rising," but warned that "acts of violence" shouldn't be associated with "strong political debate." 

"We condemn political violence in the strongest possible terms. It will not be allowed. It will not be tolerated," Pence told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton in an interview that aired Monday on "Rising." 

"We saw that last summer with the attack on the Republican baseball practice," he said, referring to last year's congressional baseball practice that left Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLawmakers warn of 'grave situation' after drone shot down House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account MORE (R-La.) and three others wounded. 

"Of course, we saw the suspect mailing pipe bombs to prominent political figures this week. Of course, the horrific and anti-Semitic attack that took place in Pittsburgh grieves our hearts," Pence continued. 

"We need to continue to work as a nation to bring these senseless acts of violence to an end, and we will," he said. "But I think we need to be very careful, Buck, about associating acts of violence with strong political debate in America." 

Pence's comments come shortly after 11 worshippers were killed in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and packages containing pipe bombs were mailed to prominent Democratic figures including former President Obama and former presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 MORE

A number of critics have pointed to rhetoric from President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE, which they say could embolden people to commit violent acts. 

However, Pence said Trump is looking to preserve the right to freedom of speech in a peaceful manner. 

"Throughout our history, we've always had strong political debate, and then we settle those things at the ballot box. I think what the president is determined to do is continue in the days that remain in this election and going forward to make sure that we preserve the freedom of speech, and the ability of Americans to have those debates, to work out our issues in the public domain, and then carry that into the ballot box and resolve our issues there," he said. 

— Julia Manchester