During a Meet the Press discussion of whether violent political rhetoric has any relationship to Saturday’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, spoke out about the infamous words uttered by the original chief of staff of one of her tea party-supported colleagues: “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
“We’re a country that tries to solve our problems by ballots and not bullets, so a good debate is fine, but when you try to go into an area of threatening debate and things of that nature, then it’s very dangerous,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.
Those sentiments prompted Wasserman Schultz to bring up Kaufman’s extreme statements — which were given added respectability when Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, hired Kaufman as his chief of staff. Kaufman resigned shortly after due to a whirlwind of controversy, but West defended her as recently as last week, saying she even helped select her eventual replacement.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we set the right example and set the tone of civility,” Wasserman Schultz said, “but the shock jocks and the political movement leaders that are out there on both sides of the aisle need to have some pause as well. I mean, the phrase that you just used — ‘We use ballots, not bullets’ — the actual reverse of that phrase was used in my district, by someone who was almost the chief of staff to an incoming member of Congress — where she said at a rally, a tea party rally, ‘We will use bullets if ballots don’t work.’ So the rhetoric outside needs to be toned down as well, but we have to set the first example.”
Here’s the clip. The discussion noted above starts around the 10:15 mark: