Rep. Steve Scalise apparently took former Attorney General Eric Holder’s words at a campaign rally for Georgia Democratic candidates literally when Holder said, “When they go low, we kick ’em.”
The Louisiana Republican and third-in-line in House GOP leadership said Holder’s comment amounted to a “call for violence” in an op-ed for Fox News published Thursday.
But at the same rally where Holder delivered the line — a variant on former First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2016 Democratic National Convention speech where she said, “When they go low, we go high,” in reference to President Donald Trump’s controversial campaign rhetoric — the former Obama AG clarified that he was urging supporters not to back down in the face of GOP tough talk.
“When I say ‘kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean do anything inappropriate, don’t do anything illegal,” Holder said at the rally. “But we’ve got to be tough. And we’ve got to fight for the very things that John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, all those folks gave to us.”
“That stuff can be taken away. That’s what they want to do,” Holder said of Republicans.
In his op-ed, Scalise rattled off a list of threats and incidents of harassment GOP lawmakers and operatives have faced, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being “chased” out of restaurants.
Scalise was shot and nearly killed last year at a GOP baseball team practice when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a field in Alexandria, Virginia, a day before their annual Congressional Baseball Game with Democrats.
“As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country,” Scalise wrote in his op-ed, one of a handful of similar essays he has penned for various publications since his shooting in June 2017.
“I refuse to stand for this and I will continue to call for an end to it. A healthy, strong democracy is not possible if anyone lives in fear of expressing their views,” Scalise wrote.
The current standard-bearer for the GOP has delivered his fair share of remarks that Democrats, and at least one Kentucky judge, say incite violence against people who dissent against Republicans.
At a campaign rally in 2016, Trump said of a protester being led out of a Las Vegas auditorium that he’d like to “punch him in the face” and see the protester “carried out on a stretcher.”
The president also tweeted a video of him beating up cable news network CNN in a video of one of his WWE appearances, which some interpreted as a physical threat against journalists at the company.
Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their Republican colleagues receive serious (and non-serious) threats against their lives and the lives of their family members all the time.
“Let’s end this violence and return to civility before someone else gets hurt,” Scalise wrote.