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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is calling on President Biden and prominent Democrats to denounce political violence after an 18-year-old North Dakota Republican was reportedly murdered following a political dispute.
“It’s outrageous and tragic that once again we are seeing another example of leftist violence,” Scalise, who was almost killed by a supporter of Bernie Sanders in a 2017 politically motivated shooting, told Fox News Digital. “I know firsthand the consequences that can result from violent political rhetoric, and my prayers are with Cayler’s family.”
Scalise continued, “People from all parties should condemn political violence when it happens, and I would encourage President Biden and other Democrat leaders to equally condemn this heinous act.”
Cayler Ellingson, 18, was killed this week after being mowed down by a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Shannon Brandt, according to court documents, following what Brandt called a “political argument.”
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“Brandt admitted to striking the pedestrian with his car because he had a political argument with the pedestrian and believed the pedestrian was calling people to come get him,” court documents state. “Brandt admitted to State Radio that he hit the pedestrian and that the pedestrian was part of a Republican extremist group.”
A breathalyzer test later showed that Brandt’s blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08.
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Biden has faced criticism in the days following Ellingson’s death from conservatives who have pointed to his speech in Philadelphia earlier this month suggesting that supporters of former President Donald Trump are a “threat” to the United States.
“Joe Biden’s rhetoric has consequences,” columnist Karol Markowicz tweeted. “When you label anyone who disagrees with you an ‘extremist,’ this happens. This should be a wall-to-wall story.”
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“An 18 year old was executed in cold blood by a Democrat political terrorist because of rhetoric like this,” Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted. “Democrats want Republicans dead, and they’ve already started the killings. Democrat’s political war against patriotic Americans must end!”
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said during a speech in Philadelphia earlier this month that earned strong criticism from conservatives.
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The speech also earned criticism from some on the left, including the Washington Post editorial board, which said Biden’s remarks “fell short” and were “demeaning” to “conservatives of good will.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, the White House did not specifically condemn the North Dakota killing by name but said President Biden has made it “clear” that the United States rejects political violence.
“As the President has made clear, this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool and we do not encourage violence,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “It has no place in our political discourse and we condemn it.”
The White House also pointed to an excerpt from Biden’s Philadelphia speech where he said, “There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever.”