Dem, GOP campaign chiefs call for unity in aftermath of mail bombs, synagogue shooting

Dem, GOP campaign chiefs call for unity in aftermath of mail bombs, synagogue shooting
© Getty Images

The congressmen leading the Democratic and Republican House campaign arms each called for unity on Sunday, and said a recent burst of violence should not be politicized in the final days before the midterm elections.

Reps. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power Business groups back pandemic insurance bill modeled on post-9/11 law National Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus MORE (R-Ohio), who chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee, respectively, said on "Fox News Sunday" that politicians should work to unify the country in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a spate of bomb threats against prominent critics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge's order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE.

"No one should be politicizing what happened this week," Luján said.

"We should come together as a country," he added. "This should not be a political response, but rather a response at how we can further bring us together."

ADVERTISEMENT

Stivers noted that both Republicans and Democrats have been targeted by political violence in recent years, citing this week's bomb threats and a gunman who opened fire on a group of GOP lawmakers during baseball practice in 2017.

"I want to say that Ben is not my enemy. Democrats are not my enemy. They are my opponents, and while we have different visions for the future of America, different directions, we are all Americans first," Stivers said.

"We need to come together and do what’s in the best interest of America," he added. "No matter who wins in 10 days I believe we can come together and make that happen."

Both representatives also appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where they again stressed unity while simultaneously hitting the other side for fueling political hostilities.

“I think we all bear some responsibility and we need to try to clean up our act and try bring civility to our congress and frankly to our dialogue,” Stivers said.

Lujan said Congress has a responsibility to move past "finger pointing."

Both Stivers and Lujan expressed confidence their party would secure the majority in the House in next month’s midterms, but acknowledged it would likely be a narrow edge.

The two lawmakers cited health care and infrastructure as areas the two parties could work together to show bipartisan cooperation.

Authorities announced Friday they arrested Cesar Sayoc Jr. in connection with a string of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats nationwide in the days prior. Sayoc allegedly addressed explosive devices to former President Obama, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Government funding bill butts up against deadline | Pentagon reports eighth military COVID-19 death | Trump, Pentagon collide over anti-diversity training push Voters split on whether Trump, Biden will win first debate: poll New Monmouth poll finds Biden with 6-point lead MORE, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for Trump's TikTok ban Harris says she hasn't 'made a plan one way or another' on meeting Supreme Court nominee MORE, Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersPowell, Mnuchin stress limits of current emergency lending programs Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Omar invokes father's death from coronavirus in reaction to Woodward book MORE (D-Calif.), billionaire philanthropist George Soros and others.

None of the devices detonated before they were intercepted by law enforcement. Each intended target has been critical of Trump, and has been chastised by the president in return.

Stivers on Sunday defended an NRCC advertisement highlighted by NBC anchor Chuck Todd that ties Democratic Minnesota congressional candidate Dan Feehan to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

A voiceover in the advertisement paints Soros as a villain who “bankrolls the resistance” and is funding Feehan’s campaign and employer. Soros is frequently the subject of conspiracy theories and criticism from conservatives and far-right personalities.

“Our independent expenditure arm is independent, but that ad is factual and it also has nothing to do with calling for violence,” Stivers said. “That ad is a factual ad.”

Meanwhile, a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue early Saturday, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

Robert Bowers, 46, was charged with 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation after police said he opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue during Saturday morning services.

Authorities said he told police as he was being treated for injuries upon his arrest that he wanted all Jews to die.

It is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Trump called for unity after throughout the week, and vowed he would not allow political violence to take root in the country. However, at subsequent campaign rallies, he returned to attacking Democrats and the media and suggested each group was responsible for the hostile political climate.

Democrats called for unity, but some criticized Trump for inflaming political hostilities by labeling the party an "angry mob" and deriding the news media as the "enemy of the people."

Republicans also urged calm in the past week, but pointed fingers at Democrats for urging their supporters to confront Trump administration officials and GOP lawmakers over policies they disagree with.

--This report was updated at 11:53 a.m.