House Minority Whip Eric Cantor just gave a brief speech accusing Democrats of using reports of recent threats of violence for political gain, and saying someone shot a bullet through the window of his campaign office this week.
“I’ve received threats since I assumed elected office, not only because of my positions, but because I am Jewish,” Cantor said. “I’ve never blamed anyone in this body for that. Period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body that would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children.”Cantor said a bullet was shot through the window of his Richmond, Va., campaign office this week, and that he’s gotten threatening emails.
“I will not release them because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent,” he said.
He said to do so — as some Democratic lawmakers have done — would be reckless.
“It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain,” he said. He called out DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chair Tim Kaine by name as those who are “dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon.”
“To use such threats against members of congress is not a partisan issue,” he said. “By ratcheting up the rhetoric some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels.”
Cantor’s congressional office tells TPMDC the shooting happened sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. It triggered an alarm, and the campaign filed a police report immediately. No one was harmed.
Michael Lowry, a spokesman for the Cantor campaign, told TPMDC that all inquiries about the shooting were being handled by Cantor’s congressional office staff. He would not confirm any details about the incident, including whether or not there was a visible bullet hole.
A Richmond Police spokeswoman says the department is working on a statement about the incident to release to the press.
Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro and Christina Bellantoni
Late update: The DNC sends over a statement:
We disagree with the charge made by Rep. Cantor today that Democrats are using acts of violence for political gain. Let’s be clear: calling on Republican leaders who have contributed in part to this anger by wildly mischaracterizing the substance and motives of health reform to condemn these acts is entirely appropriate.
Instead of distracting from the issue with more attacks, we would again ask Mr. Cantor and other Republicans, as we did yesterday, to join Chairman Kaine in working to ratchet down the rhetoric, condemn deplorable behavior and find ways to disagree on these issues without the charged rhetoric that we’ve been hearing from Republican leaders.
Late late update: The Associated Press is calling this a “possible gunshot” and describes the office as that of a political consultant for Cantor, not his campaign office.
But Cantor’s spokesman, Brad Dayspring, tells TPMDC that it was indeed his campaign office.
Several Republican campaigns and consultants are housed in the same building, the Reagan Building, including Bolling For Lt Governorâ, Cantor for Congressâ, Creative Direct LLCâ, LaCivita Consulting LLCâ and Marcus & Allen LLCâ.
Late late late update: From the local paper: “Cantor, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said he doesn’t know whether the shot was random or aimed at the building.”
Another update: Van Hollen’s spokesman, Doug Thornell, sends over a statement:
Yesterday, Congressman Van Hollen called upon Republican leaders to condemn the harsh rhetoric that is fanning the flames of extremism around the country. Today, Mr. Cantor had the opportunity to join Mr. Van Hollen in calling for restraint. 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.
Also, the AP has updated its story to reflect that the office is Cantor’s campaign office.
Late Police-Weigh-In Update: Here’s the statement from the Richmond police on the bullet incident.
It says in part:
“A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.”