Iowa Rep. Steve King linked former President Barack Obama to the attack on Republican lawmakers at a baseball field in Northern Virginia, arguing Obama deepened the nation’s political divisions by emphasizing “differences rather than our things that unify us.”
That intense political division, King said, is what led a gunman to open fire at a park in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday, as Republican members of Congress were practicing for a charity baseball game against their Democratic colleagues.
“I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack Obama,” King said to Simon Conway on WHO Iowa radio. “He contributed mightily to dividing us. He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the fruits of that labor.”
Conway didn’t exactly protest.
“Of course he also spent eight years telling us all how terrible we all are and what a garbage can America was and how unexceptional we all were,” said the British-born Conway. “I agree. I absolutely agree with what you said.”
Five people were wounded in the early morning attack, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise who has underwent three surgeries since the shooting and remains in critical condition.
The shooter was identified by law enforcement as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., a former volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and a professed critic of Donald Trump. He was shot by police minutes after the attack began and later died of his injuries.
Some Republicans say anti-Trump sentiment on the left has created a climate of political violence. Hodgkinson’s political views were immediately examined as a motive for the shooting.
Steve King has raised ire across the political spectrum. In March, he tweeted that ‘we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,’ and has also made some pretty controversial statements about “intermarriage.”