Castle welcomes debate on political rhetoric

Former Congressman Mike Castle says the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was horrific, but he thinks it’s a good thing that the Tuscon tragedy has started a debate about political discourse in the nation.

Castle lost the Delaware Republican primary in September to Christine O’Donnell.  She was helped through the support of the Tea Party Express and negative campaign ads.  He says his campaign wasn’t as negative as other campaigns.  He said the only time he was shocked about the tone of the Tea Party was after the election when he said his staff received calls saying how glad they were the Congressman had been defeated.

Castle says statements by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Arizona were needed to start a debate about political discourse.  He says it comes from political corners, from the media, and others.  “You have many individuals who have no responsibility to anyone who are willing to take on elected officials, he says” 

He doesn’t know what form the debate will take.  He expects many in Congress to tone down their rhetoric when a debate starts over health care.  Castle also wonders if Congress would be willing to do any more about gun control.  He says when the Clinton assault weapons ban expired in 2004 it opened the door to make it easier to buy a 9mm Glock pistol.  That was the type of gun used Saturday on Congresswoman Giffords.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

He says he co-authored legislation with Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to deal with automatic weapons, but the legislation never went anywhere.

Castle said he knew Giffords from her two terms in Congress.  He said she was a good legislation would ask him questions about the state.  She had been to Delaware to tour the University of Delaware and party fund raising efforts.

Castle said he never felt threatened at any public event when he was in Congress.  He said there were many heated town hall meetings the last few years over healthcare, but he said that was part of the job.

He speculates there were more and better coordination between capitol police and state and local police.  He says you can’t cut off the connection between elected officials and their constituents.  

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal