Nancy Pelosi Chokes Up Amid Fears of Political Violence

By Lindsey Ellerson

Sep 17, 2009 1:53pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that she's worried that angry words directed at President Obama could incite political violence — and cited incidents of violence in her hometown of San Francisco in the 1970s in expressing her concern. Asked at a news conference on Capitol Hill about the possibility of anti-government rhetoric leading to violence, Pelosi, D-Calif., started to choke up as she recalled violent episodes that took place in San Francisco. "I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw — I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco, this kind of — of rhetoric was very frightening and it gave — it created a climate in which we — violence took place," Pelosi said.
"And so I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made, understanding that — that some of the people — the ears it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume," she said. "But, again, our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe, but I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause." In 1978, former San Francisco city supervisor Dan White shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk inside City Hall. Milk was at the time the highest-ranking openly gay elected official in the country. Pelosi knew both Moscone and Milk as a Democratic Party activist in the 1970s. Last year, at an unveiling ceremony for a bust of Milk at a jobs center, Pelosi recalled the day Milk was remembered following his death. "I kept thinking of Harvey on that day — on that day that we eulogized him," Pelosi said, according to a clip posted to YouTube. "He was a great guy, and he led a wonderful life. And he was comfortable in his own skin, and he wanted everyone else to be so as well."  UPDATE: Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, issued a statement saying Pelosi herself is responsible for some of the frustration.

"Speaker Pelosi is right that the American people are upset, but it is her own words that continue to fuel voter frustration in America," said Sessions, R-Texas. "No longer content with criticizing concerned citizens for being 'un-American,' the Speaker is now likening genuine opposition to assassination. Such insulting rhetoric not only undermines the credibility of her office, but it underscores the desperate attempt by her party to divert attention away from a failing agenda. During one of the most important policy debates of our time, the American people have been completely abandoned by those elected representatives under her control. Voters are justifiably frustrated with Washington, and the Speaker's verbal assault on voters accomplishes nothing other than furthering her reputation for being wildly out of touch with the American people."

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