The fierce heat of political debate in an increasingly polarized nation took center stage Wednesday after a gunman with left-leaning political views opened fire on GOP lawmakers practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game.

Republicans said they felt as if they had been hunted by the shooter, whom the FBI named as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill.

While law enforcement has made no public statement on the shooter’s motivations, his left-wing social media postings drew quick attention.

On Facebook, a page apparently belonging to the shooter showed affiliations with online groups with incendiary names such as “Terminate the Republican Party” and “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans.” Hodgkinson also wrote a number of letters to his local newspaper blasting the GOP.

The attack left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in critical condition in a Washington hospital. Four other people were injured. Hodgkinson was shot by law enforcement officers and died later from his injuries.

Democrats practicing for Thursday’s game at a different location were photographed praying for Scalise and the other shooting victims, and politicians on both sides of the aisle sought to calm tensions.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave back-to-back speeches on the House floor expressing their desire to transcend partisan differences.

“For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family,” Ryan said, in remarks that Pelosi praised as “beautiful.”

President Trump, speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, said, “We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.”

Trump also said the nation was “strongest when we are unified.”

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SOURCE: NIALL STANAGE 
The Hill

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