Rep. Andrews: 'Stop the Harsh Rhetoric' Whether It’s Linked to AZ Shooter or Not

By Nicholas Ballasy | January 14, 2011 | 2:05 PM EST

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.)

( -Whether there is a link between “harsh” political “rhetoric” and the motives of the shooter in the Tucson tragedy or not, Congressman Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) says “we should stop the harsh rhetoric, just for stopping the harsh rhetoric.” Rep. Andrews added that the “harsh rhetoric” does “violence to the political community” and the country. asked Andrews if he has seen any hard evidence linking the shooter to any American politician or talk show host, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has suggested.

“Hard evidence is what comes out of trials and we will all watch together whatever evidence is gathered against this suspect. I will say this, whether there’s a link between this conduct and the harsh rhetoric or not, we should stop the harsh rhetoric just for stopping the harsh rhetoric. I would have given this same answer to you Friday afternoon that I don’t think in our politics we should question the legitimacy or the motives of our adversaries,” Andrews, who serves on the House Armed Services committee, responded in an interview with at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“I think we should vigorously oppose their points if we disagree with them but I think it does violence to the political community, to the country when we attack the person on the other side of the isle simply because we think they’re a bad person instead of we disagree with their views. I’m not suggesting there’s any evidence that says that’s what led this individual to do the shooting. Quite apart from that, had the shooting not taken place, I think people have got to stop questioning the legitimacy and motives of those who disagree with them.”

When asked for specific examples of “harsh rhetoric,” Andrews said it would be “wrong” to recite them during this “volatile” time.

“There are far too many and I think to recite them at this very volatile time is the wrong thing to do I think that if you think that the War in Iraq is a terrible idea then argue why you think it’s a terrible idea, don’t accuse it’s propagators of being un-American,” he said.

“If you think the health care bill is a bad piece of legislation then say why you think it’s bad, but don’t accuse its authors of being traitors or somehow un-American. I think people have got to drop that kind of rhetoric for the benefit of the health of the political community.”

Andrews also said that America should “support” the victims and their families and not “politicize” their grief.

“My reaction’s first as a human being, that you know there are people whose hearts are broken and our soul focus right now should be on those families and showing them that we support them and are not going to politicize their grief,” he told

“I certainly have a lot of substantive ideas about how easy it is for people to buy semi-automatic weapons and substantive ideas about background checks on people but those are policy debates for another time. I think the sole focus of the country now should be on supporting those who are struggling to recover and providing some comfort to those who have lost someone they love.”