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Pelosi’s attack rattles an already temperamental campaign

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Kevin McCarthy-aligned super PAC, has mentioned the speaker in at least 29 ads over the past week, according to Democratic strategists who track the issue.

“The attack is not an isolated event,” Barbara Walter, political scientist and author of “How Civil Wars Begin,” told POLITICO. “This is part of a growing wave of domestic terror since 2008 — most by members of the radical right — that targets opposition leaders, minority groups and federal agents. This is their form of civil war and it will only get worse as long as our democracy remains weak and unstable, and our society deeply divided.

Publicly, elected officials, candidates and campaign committees have expressed reluctance to comment on the record of the heightened security measures they are taking in the final stretch of the campaign. Several Democratic gubernatorial campaigns declined to comment on those proceedings, and the Democratic Governors Association referred POLITICO to state law enforcement agencies. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and several Democratic Senate campaigns, meanwhile, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Detroit on Saturday afternoon, former President Barack Obama called on Republicans to turn down the heat on violent rhetoric.

“If our rhetoric towards each other gets so mean, when we not only disagree with people but start demonizing them, making crazy allegations against them, that creates a dangerous climate,” Obama said. . “If elected officials don’t do more…people can get hurt.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who withstood the Capitol siege by Donald Trump supporters in the tense hours of Jan. 6 while working closely with Pelosi, spoke out against the attack on her husband. “This is an outrage and our hearts are with the entire Pelosi family,” Pence tweeted on Friday.

In an interview with POLITICO on Saturday, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who challenged Pelosi for the leadership in 2016, drew a line between attacking hardline elements in the Republican Party — and Fox News speakers “shedding light” on the attack.

“It’s disgusting what they’re doing,” said the Ohio Democrat, who was campaigning in Portsmouth, Ohio, in the final days of his U.S. Senate race against Republican JD Vance. “JD Vance raised money for the insurgents. … These guys are so extreme, they stir up violence, they raise money for people trying to bring the country down, they blow it up, and that’s what you get. And it’s sad.

In the wake of Pelosi’s attack, at least one spouse of a political figure — Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg — accused Fox News of plotting political attacks on her family. “If Fox News wishes to bring down the tenor of political speech, I am happy to point them to their specific segment that has increased targeted attacks on my family,” Buttigieg tweeted. “It’s not hard to forget, it’s our children’s birthday.”

On Saturday, the Democratic Senate candidate from Pennsylvania John Fetterman tweeted about a burnt-out campaign sign in what he called “deep Lawrence County red”. As a well-known political figure, threats are nothing new to Fetterman, a campaign aide said. But over the past two to three weeks, Gisele Fetterman, Fetterman’s wife, has also found herself in the midst of an upsurge in threats, the person said.

Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s spokesman, has also received threats of violence in recent days. He linked them to stories in conservative media about him after Fetterman’s debate with Mehmet Oz this week, when he said Fetterman ‘took on Dr Oz pretty hard’ in the media broadcast room .

“Gateway Pundit releases a story about me at 9:25 am right after the spin room. That night I receive threats in my personal email,” he said. “The next morning Fox News has a story autonomous on me spinning in my colorful tongue.And then I get more threats on my personal and professional emails.It’s hard not to see a direct link here for me.

Gateway Pundit did not immediately respond to a POLITICO request for comment.

A campaign aide to Fetterman said Fetterman had a security guard as lieutenant governor. “There is no place for violence and intimidation in politics,” Fetterman tweeted. “All Pennsylvanians should feel safe to show their political support.”

Republicans, Auchincloss said, “must be warned that their rhetoric has the potential to inspire political violence, and they must be aware of the words they use and the effect it may have on inciting political violence”. For their part, some Republicans tried to calm the political temperature in the hours following the attack.

“As we wait to learn more, every American needs to turn the heat down,” Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement Friday.

In Ohio on Saturday, Republican Sen. Rob Portman, campaigning alongside candidate JD Vance, Gov. Mike DeWine and Rep. Steve Chabot at a Cincinnati-area canvass, discussed crime and public safety with a small crowd of supporters when he briefly turned to attack.

“By the way, what happened yesterday to President Pelosi’s husband, none of us can tolerate that,” Portman told a crowd. “We are not talking about violence. What we want is to settle our differences at the polls, and that is what we are going to do. A voice in the crowd shouted, “We will beat her at the polls. Portman replied, “Beat her at the polls, absolutely.”

Before the event, however, a woman at the back of the crowd confessed that a small part of her thought “maybe bad people deserve bad things to happen to them.” Still, the woman said her hope for Pelosi’s husband’s health outweighed that impulse: “Please get well,” she said.

Ally Mutnick, Zach Montellaro and Natalie Allison contributed to this story.


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