House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was shot and wounded in 2017 by a political opponent, says hateful remarks and threats directed at him from followers of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., are low blows that do not deserve responses.
“I would like to see her stand up to this; everybody ought to stand up to this kind of discussion,” Scalise said of Ocasio-Cortez in an interview Monday morning on “Fox & Friends.”
“If somebody wants to have a debate about policy, that’s what we’re all about, what the First Amendment’s all about,” he said. “But you shouldn’t threaten people, and if you’ve got to threaten people to make your point, you’ve already lost.”
Ocasio-Cortez had not addressed the threats directed toward Scalise as of noon Monday.
The two lawmakers got into a debate on Twitter that generated the threatening responses from some.
“She’s got a better aim than James Hodgkinson, that’s for sure,” reads one reply to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet taking Scalise to task.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 6, 2019
Hodgkinson, 66, was the gunman from Belleville, Illinois, who wounded Scalise after opening fire June 14, 2017, at Republican lawmakers and staff during a practice for a congressional baseball game. Hodgkinson, killed by police, was a supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
“Snipe his ass,” someone else tweeted about Scalise.
“Once we started getting into this Twitter back and forth, a lot of her followers started making very inappropriate references and comments and I said, ‘I am not going to have this debate here, I’ll have it with her on the House floor,” Scalise said.
The Louisiana Republican said he welcomes debating taxation and other ideas with Ocasio-Cortez, but not in an environment of threats and hate.
“I was just trying to have a little fun debate about this; it’s an important issue,” Scalise said, adding:
I strongly disagree with this idea that you should just confiscate most of the money that people make and try to get into this class warfare debate. I said, ‘Look, let’s have an economy that works for everybody, [and] by the way, our tax rates, the fact that we cut taxes, it’s creating jobs, it’s helping rebuild our middle class, those very hardworking families.