Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that politicians need to think about their rhetoric in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 19 others (including a federal judge) in Arizona, "or this darkness will never ever be overcome with light."
"The hostility is here -- people may want to deny it -- it's real, and if we don't stop it soon, I think this nation is going to be bitterly divided to the point where I fear for the future of our children," Cleaver said.
Cleaver was on a panel on the program along with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID).
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Across the Nation, Vigils Held for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords]
"We've got to watch what we say," Cleaver said. "Congress meets a lot, but it rarely comes together," Cleaver said.
"They say I'm right, and you're evil, and that is what's damaging this country," Cleaver said.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Dem Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot In Arizona]
"We're all in this for the same reasons, to make America a better place," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said. Wasserman Schultz suggested that Democrats and Republicans should have an event or retreat to come together.
Meet the Press also aired comments that former President Bill Clinton made on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing about the use of political rhetoric.
"What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should hold less passion for the positions we hold, but that our words really do matter. There is this vast echo chamber, and the words fall on the serious and delirious alike," Clinton warned. "Have at it. Go fight. Do whatever you want. You don't have to be nice. But be careful with what you say and do not advocate violence."
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