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GOP's Cantor says his office was shot at, says Dems are 'fanning the flames'

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GOP's Cantor says his office was shot at, says Dems are 'fanning the flames'

New York Times: "The Congressional clash over threats and vandalism against lawmakers in the aftermath of the health care vote took a new turn Thursday as the No. 2 House Republican accused Democrats of recklessly exploiting the incidents for political gain. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip, told reporters that he had also been the subject of threats and that a shot was fired through a window of his campaign office in Richmond this week."

Cantor said he had not publicized the incident "for fear of inciting more, and he said that Democrats were wrongly amplifying reports of vandalism and death threats" (Hulse, 3/25).

CNN: "A Richmond police spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that a bullet was fired at the congressman's office. 'We are investigating the circumstance surrounding it,' spokeswoman Karla Peters said. Cantor also said that he had received threatening messages but that he would not publicly release the messages out of concern that doing so would only incite further violence. He also accused Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland -- a member of the Democratic House leadership -- of 'fanning the flames' of violence by using threats that have been made against Democratic members 'as political weapons.' 'Enough is enough,' Cantor said. 'It has to stop.'

"Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse hit back against Cantor's claims. 'We disagree with the charge made by Rep. Cantor today that Democrats are using acts of violence for political gain,' he said. 'Let's be clear: Calling on Republican leaders who have contributed in part to this anger by wildly mischaracterizing the substance and motives of health reform to condemn these acts is entirely appropriate.' (3/25).

USA Today: "House Republicans are pushing back against Democrats' accusations that GOP rhetoric has encouraged health care legislation opponents to direct threats and vandalism against Democrats. ... 'People who engage in such acts undermine our cause and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,' Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said. 'But I also rise to condemn the efforts to smear millions of law-abiding Americans who oppose ObamaCare by associating them and their principled opposition with these criminal acts'" (Kelley, 3/25).

In an earlier story Thursday, USA Today reported: "The FBI is investigating acts of vandalism and a death threat aimed at Democrats who voted for the health care legislation."  One incident involved Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., "who had a prominent role in passing the historic legislation as chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, [and] said a window in a district office was shattered by a brick and a voicemail 'referencing snipers' was left on a campaign office phone." Meanwhile, "Earlier this week, a 'Tea Party' activist posted [Virginia Rep. Tom] Perriello's brother's address on a blog, mistakenly identifying it as the congressman's home and urging readers to 'drop by ... and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care'" (Kelley and Johnson, 3/25).

The Washington Post: "More than 100 House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon with representatives of the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police. ... Usually only the congressional leadership has regular personal protection from the Capitol Police. But at least 10 lawmakers have been offered increased protection by law enforcement agencies, said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)."

"In Wichita, someone broke the window of a county Democratic Party headquarters with a brick that had 'No to Obama' and 'No ObamyCare' written on it. ... Over the next 24 hours, thrown bricks shattered the glass doors and windows of party headquarters from Rochester, N.Y., to Cincinnati" (Rucker, 3/25).

Politico: "Incidents are sprouting up all over the country. ... Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) had his address posted on the Internet, with a message from a right-wing blogger asking people to show up at Driehaus’s Cincinnati 'mansion' to protest his health care vote" (Sherman, 3/25).

Politico, in a separate story: "Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) had a coffin placed 'near his home,' a spokesman said Wednesday evening. The coffin was from a prayer vigil" (Sherman, 3/25).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "Emotions have run high in Washington during debate on the health-care plan. On March 20, lawmakers said Tea Party protesters, who oppose the plan, shouted racial epithets at black House members outside the Capitol. On the House floor, a Republican lawmaker shouted 'baby killer' on March 21 as anti-abortion Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak explained why he decided to vote for the bill" (Rowley, Woellert and Blum, 3/24).

The Miami Herald: "Congressional leaders are usually reluctant to discuss security publicly, but Hoyer spoke out after five days of reported incidents against supporters of the bill House Democrats approved Sunday night. ... Democrats maintain that Republican leaders encouraged the protesters. On Tuesday, GOP Chairman Michael Steele told Fox News, 'so let's start getting (House Speaker) Nancy (Pelosi) ready for the firing line this November!' ... In Florida, that state's Tea Party movement issued a statement saying its leaders 'stand in stark opposition to any person using derogatory characterizations, threats of violence, or disparaging terms towards members of Congress or the president. We do not believe such actions have actually occurred, but nevertheless, we stand united in opposition to such behavior'" (Lightman and Douglas, 3/24).

Roll Call said GOP leaders Wednesday "defended their record as they offered fresh denunciations of violent threats. 'It is not the American way,' Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Fox News. 'Yes, I know there is anger, but let's take that anger and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and let's do it the right way'" (Newmyer and Dennis, 3/25).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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