Toxic Politics to Blame for Alexandria Shooting? Franklin Graham Says 'Yes'
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WASHINGTON — One day after a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, lawmakers in Washington are still reeling from the tragedy.
The shooting left several people injured, including House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who remains in critical condition.
Partisan politics paused for a day as Capitol Hill united in prayer for those injured in Wednesday's attack.
"We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," Speaker Paul Ryan addressed his colleagues on the House floor, drawing a bipartisan standing ovation.
'We Were Sitting Ducks'
Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, an eyewitness to Wednesday's shooting, recalled, "We were sitting ducks. We had nothing to fight back with but bats."
Williams spoke about the heroism of his aide, Zachary Barth, who was shot in the leg but still desperately tried to call for help.
"All the time he was bleeding and we were under fire, he was texting, texting, letting people know we were under fire and we needed help," said Williams.
When the congressmen saw Barth's injury, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., removed his belt and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., used it to tie a tourniquet around his leg.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told CBN News he felt helpless watching Scalise go down as the gunfire continued.
"People were nearly killed because of someone who got carried away with politics," Paul said.
'True Heroes' Stopped a Potential Massacre
Paul says that had Scalise, as a House leader, not had his Capitol Police security detail with him, it would have been a "massacre."
"True heroes, man and a woman, they confronted the attacker, returned fire. Both were wounded both in the hospital but probably saved the lives of many people," continued Paul.
Meanwhile, the Democratic baseball team practicing nearby stopped and prayed in the dugout upon hearing the news.
That type of emotion swept Capitol Hill as other lawmakers learned of the shooting.
"As I walked through the Capitol today, it was interesting that several times I'd walk past an open door into an office and I would hear staff inside praying," Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told CBN News.
Lankford ended his Senate floor speech Wednesday exercising his right to pray for those injured and thank God for his protection. He says much of the conversation amongst his colleagues on Wednesday centered on the rise in death threats to lawmakers.
"Many of my fellow colleagues have faced a lot of personal death threats to them and to their family, and we see what that really looks like when that actually gets carried out by some individual that moves from just making threats or being a person that's angry, to actually carrying that out," said Lankford.
"We talk and disagree about things as a nation, but it shouldn't elevate to this," he continued. "This is not who we are as a nation."
Franklin Graham Lashes Out at 'Leftist Progressives'
Franklin Graham echoed that sentiment in a Facebook post Thursday morning.
"Where did all of this political hatred come from? One party hating the other so badly. No compromising. No cooperation. No camaraderie. Some are saying the shooting of GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was caused by 'political rhetorical terrorism,' he wrote.
Mincing no words, Graham went on to blame some in the Democratic Party for the toxic political climate.
"Leftist progressives in the Democratic Party just won't let go of losing the election," he charged. "They are going after President Donald J. Trump tooth and nail. They're not just being obstructionists, they want to destroy this president."
Nevertheless, Graham remained hopeful, saying, "Only God can heal this country."
"My prayer is that God will bring healing into the hearts of our leaders and that we could be one nation under God—united," he concluded.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump called for unity as he spoke to the nation about the shooting.
"America's praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting," said the president.
Wednesday evening, he left the White House to visit Scalise and the wounded officers.
The Game Must Go On
Despite the attack, the congressional baseball game will still go on Thursday, an announcement that received enthusiastic applause from the whole House of Representatives.
"When America gets punched, America punches back. And we take days on in America, not off," Rep. Williams told ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday morning. "We need to play this game. It's the game of America. It's bipartisan."
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