By Chandelis Duster, CNN
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should publicly condemn Republican lawmakers whose behavior is violent or increases division, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday.
“I think whenever, even in our own caucus, our own members, if they go the wrong direction, I mean, it has to be called out,” Hutchinson told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “It has to be dealt with, particularly whenever it is breaching the civility, whenever it is crossing the line in terms of violence or increasing the divide in our country.”
He continued, “So one of the things that’s really important to us in the future is increasing the civil debate, and civil discourse, and we have got to look for ways that we can bring people together, and not divide, and certainly along racial lines.”
The criticism from the Republican governor comes after the comments and actions of Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who was censured for posting online a photoshopped animé video showing him appearing to kill New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. In a video posted on Facebook, Boebert implied that Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim, had been mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator on Capitol Hill, saying “I look to my left and there she is, Ilhan Omar, and I said, ‘Well she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.”
Boebert has apologized for the racist remark and Gosar said in a statement earlier this month he doesn’t “espouse violence or harm towards any member of Congress or Mr. Biden” but defended the video as “truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.” McCarthy has not publicly condemned either congressional member over their actions. McCarthy said he spoke to Boebert on Friday in the wake of her comments and is encouraging that she meet with Omar. He also told CNN earlier this month that he spoke with Gosar after the now-deleted tweet of the video.
GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said Sunday evening that she was “disappointed” in Boebert’s remarks during an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on “CNN Newsroom.” Asked if McCarthy should publicly condemn Boebert’s comments, Mace said he’s “been a good leader on many of these issues” but added that both parties have a responsibility to “lower the temperature.”
“I appreciate his leadership. And for me, I’m going to speak for myself, but I have consistently condemned these kinds of comments across the board, repeatedly,” Mace said. “And quite frankly, I am tired of it. It’s really time for us to work together, and do something better for our nation.”
As Republicans eye taking control of Congress with the 2022 midterm elections, a moderate House Republican previously told CNN a number of moderates are upset with how McCarthy has embraced some of the extremists in the GOP conference.
The lawmaker also warned it could hurt the party in swing districts and undermine their chances of winning back the majority, adding that other moderate lawmakers would start speaking out publicly if the California Republican doesn’t do more to rein in the fringe members in the party.
This story has been updated with additional information Sunday.
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