WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said his long-running friendship with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) “can start to bridge that divide” in America “by leading by example.”
The two appeared on CBS this morning a few days after Richmond, with his advantage of having played baseball in college at Morehouse, led the Democrats to a 21-5 victory over the Republicans at the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Scalise, who was gravely wounded by a shooter at one of last year’s practices for the game, jumped in for a play, snagging a grounder on the first pitch.
Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who saved lawmakers’ lives in the Alexandria, Va., shooting, helped Scalise onto the field. Richmond, who was one of the first at the hospital when Scalise was shot and helped emotionally support Scalise’s family, helped Scalise off the field.
“We’re a divided nation right now. But if you look back at the history of our country, I mean our founders set up a system of government where with the rights of free speech, the ability — you can go out disagree with people and you can actually express those disagreements. In many countries you can’t,” Scalise said.
“The difference is No. 1, you should never make those disagreements personal. But there’s no excuse — it’s completely unacceptable — to resort to violence to try to resolve some kind of disagreement when you have somebody — that you have with them politically.”
Richmond said that “we just need to make sure that we judge people by a whole bunch of factors, but it shouldn’t be political party, it shouldn’t be race, it shouldn’t be gender, it shouldn’t be sexual orientation.”
“It should just be whether the person’s a nice person or not. And to the extent that you agree that the person’s a nice person, then you try to find common ground,” he said. “And, look, Steve and I, our battles, even our plane rides home, when we talk about issues, it’s clear we don’t necessarily agree on most of them, how to get there.”
“I win all the arguments, but, I mean, he still keeps voting the wrong way,” Scalise quipped.
“So he likes to win the arguments. I win the baseball games,” Richmond retorted.
Richmond said he wants Scalise to “be the head Republican” after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) retires, “I just want him to be in the minority.”
Scalise added that Richmond “would make a great minority leader.”