WASHINGTON — Republican presidential contenders condemned the attacker in Friday’s deadly shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado — but largely stood by their fierce criticism of the organization.
In appearances on Sunday news television shows, several candidates called the shootings in Colorado Springs a tragedy, but one out of step with the values of the anti-abortion movement.
“What I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is, this is typical left-wing tactics,” Carly Fiorina said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called the shootings “domestic terrorism.”
He also drew a comparison between shootings and abortions.
“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,” Huckabee said.
Donald Trump, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” called the shooter “a maniac” and “a sick person.”
But he said he was disturbed by undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal body parts as “parts of a machine or something.”
“There is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, all of the videos they’ve seen, with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car,” Trump said.
He said he sees the conservative voting base’s distaste for the organization, which the GOP members of the House and Senate have sought to block from receiving federal dollars for health care services.
“I see a lot of anxiety and I see a lot of dislike for Planned Parenthood, there’s no question about that,” Trump said.
Ben Carson, meanwhile, was the only Republican candidate to call on anti-abortion activists to alter their approach.
“I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Carson said: “We at some point have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation. And we should be doing all we can to engage in intelligent, civil discussion about our differences. That’s how we solve problems. We don’t ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.”
In the wake of the attack, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley tweeted their support for the nonprofit organization.