In the wake of multiple shooting massacres in recent weeks, lots of Republican members of Congress have been asked whether they believe white nationalism has anything to do with the violence.
Talking points shared by a Florida Republican Thursday recommend that, when asked that question, lawmakers pivot toward blaming the left.
In an email to constituents reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL, pictured above) included a series of talking points that his spokesperson told the paper were “provided by the House Republican Conference.”
If asked, “Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?” the talking points falsely respond that the El Paso shooter and the man who shot Congresswoman Gaby Giffords were politically “from the left.”
“White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form,” the talking points included in the email said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “We also can’t excuse violence from the left such as the El Paso shooter, the recent Colorado shooters, the Congressional baseball shooter, Congresswoman Giffords’ shooter and Antifa.”
Summer Robertson, Bilirakis’s spokesperson, did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment. She told the Tampa Bay Times that labeling of the El Paso shooter as “left” was a mistake. Robertson told the paper that the talking points should have referenced the Dayton, Ohio shooting instead.
While the alleged El Paso shooter told allegedly police officers he was targeting Mexicans and denounced immigrants in a manifesto, echoing the President’s language, the alleged Dayton shooter’s motivations are still murky.
Gifford’s shooter, who killed six people including a federal judge, also was not “from the left.” He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and though he held a grudge against Giffords specifically, acquaintances told the press he was largely apolitical.
The House Republican Conference, currently chaired by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.