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Dems, GOP trade accusations on threats

March 26, 2010 at 1:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Actions by both parties hampered efforts by U.S. House Democratic and Republican leaders to condemn threats against their members, aides said.

Plans for a joint statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner to condemn a rash of threats of violence reported against congressional members because of their healthcare votes were jeopardized by members of both parties, The Hill reported.

Republican Whip Eric Cantor charged two top Democrats -- the Democratic National Committee chairman and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leader -- with inciting violence.

"I have deep concerns that some -- DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular -- are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon," Cantor said during a news conference Thursday before leaving the podium without taking questions. "Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials."

Cantor said his leadership position and Jewish faith also resulted in an act of violence -- including a bullet being shot through his campaign office window earlier this week.

In separate statements, Pelosi and Boehner refused to blame the other party when asked about threats, The Hill reported.

Spokesmen for both the DNC and Rep. Van Hollen, D-Md., said it was appropriate to call on Republicans to condemn the violence.

"Today, Mr. Cantor had the opportunity to join Mr. Van Hollen in calling for restraint," Van Hollen spokesman Doug Thornell said Thursday. "Instead, he chose to use his press conference to level false accusations. This is straight out of the Republicans' political playbook of deflecting responsibility and distracting attention away from a serious issue."

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