Former House speaker and presidential nominee Newt Gingrich said blaming critical media coverage of President Donald Trump for the shooting that took place at a congressional baseball practice is misplaced.
“The shooter is responsible for the shooter. I think what he did—he did. We should condemn him,” said Gingrich. “The continual bombardment of negativity certainly creates an environment that’s bad, but I would not generalize blame. I would say this is a guy who is nuts, and who acted out of hatred.”
The FBI identified James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, as the shooter. Hodgkinson was an avowed socialist and a member of the Facebook group Terminate the Republican Party.
Hodgkinson would frequently post anti-Republican memes in the room and his own Facebook page featured pro-Bernie Sanders and anti-Trump rhetoric.
Gingrich said the shooting was clearly political, which was unusual.
“We occasionally have random people who are crazy, but we don’t very often have a political shooting,” he said.
The shooting left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition, with four others injured. Scalise has had multiple units of blood transfused and has undergone two rounds of surgery with more to come.
Matt Zika, a former congressional staffer turned lobbyist for Tyson Foods also remains in critical condition.
The other victims are stable or have been discharged.
The annual congressional baseball game was played as planned, extra seats opened to make room for the sudden interest.
The event sold 24,959 tickets, a record since it was first played in 1909.
This year the game also raised over $1 million for charity, compared to about $500,000 last year.