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
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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 StiversWaters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows 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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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."

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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 ClintonImpeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy 'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter MORE, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report Biden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP MORE, Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHouse passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell White House, McConnell come out against House bill on Ex-Im Bank Divides over China, fossil fuels threaten House deal to reboot Ex-Im Bank 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.