The Slatest

Republican Candidates Deny Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and Colorado Shooting

Anti-abortion activists block 4th St. N.E. during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group’s opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

After staying silent since a gunman opened fire in a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, several Republican presidential contenders condemned the attack on Sunday. But they uniformly refused to accept any kind of connection between the hateful anti-abortion rhetoric many of them have been espousing on the campaign trail and the shooting.

Carly Fiorina called efforts to link the shooting to anti-abortion rhetoric part of “typical left-wing tactics.” Lest we forget, Fiorina has been one of the most adamant in espousing lies against Planned Parenthood, even going as far as to falsely claim in a debate that undercover video shot in the organization had shown “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

“This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message,” Fiorina said on Fox News Sunday. “What I would say to anyone who would try to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or the sale of body parts, is this is typical, left-wing tactics.” She said protesters should be peaceful, regardless of their cause. “Any protesters should always be peaceful, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or pro-life protesters,” she said. “Protesters should always be peaceful and respectful.”

Mike Huckabee called the shooting “domestic terrorism” but said it was “disingenuous” to blame anti-abortion activism for the attack. “Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism,” Huckabee told CNN. “And what he did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement because there’s nothing about any of us that would condone or any way look the other way at something like this.” But Huckabee later went on to conveniently link Planned Parenthood to murders. “There’s no excuse for killing other people, whether it’s happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood.”

Donald Trump also condemned the shooting but quickly dismissed possible links between rhetoric and the shooting. “No, I think he is a sick person,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. And when he was asked about reports that the shooter talked about “baby parts” Trump took the opportunity to again criticize Planned Parenthood. “I will tell you there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, all of the videos that they’ve seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.” He also said he sees “a lot of dislike for Planned Parenthood” on the campaign trail. “There’s no question about that.”

Ben Carson, meanwhile, also condemned the shooting but when he was asked about possible connection to political views, he linked it to political divisions as a whole. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of extremism coming from all areas,” Carson said on ABC News. “There’s no saint here in this equation.”