Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson weighed in Sunday on Friday’s shooting a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, calling it a “hate crime” and saying that both sides of the abortion debate should “tone down their rhetoric.”
“Any hate crime is a horrible thing no matter from where it comes and should be condemned very strongly,” Carson said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, killed three people and wounded nine more in a shooting which began shortly before noon on Friday near the Planned Parenthood clinic. (RELATED: Colorado Springs Shooter Robert L. Dear Was An Accused Peeping Tom Once Arrested For Animal Cruelty)
It is still unclear where the shooting started and whether any Planned Parenthood employees or patients were injured. But Dear did surrender inside of the Planned Parenthood facility after a five hour standoff. Anonymous sources have told several news outlets that Dear made a comment about “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to videos which show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue.
During during his ABC News interview, Carson was quick to add that “there is a lot of extremism from all areas.”
“We get into our separate corners, and we hate each other…it comes from both sides,” Carson said.
In a separate interview, Carson said that the abortion debate has given way to “hateful rhetoric” from both the pro-life and pro-choice sides.
“There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, right or left, is something that is detrimental to our society,” Carson told CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.
“No question, the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation,” he added.
Asked by Dickerson if abortion opponents should tone down their rhetoric, Carson agreed, though he hedged his response to include abortion supporters.
“I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion,” Carson said.
In calling the shooting a hate crime, Carson joins fellow social conservative, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as the two Republicans who have most strongly condemned Dear’s actions.
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Huckabee called the shooting “domestic terrorism.”
“There’s no legitimizing, there’s no rationalizing. It was mass murder,” Huckabee said. “It was absolutely unfathomable. And 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.”
In a third interview Carson conducted on Sunday, he declined to go as far as Huckabee in calling the shooting “terrorism.”
“Planned Parenthood is calling this now an act of domestic terrorism. Do you agree with that assessment?” CNN “State of the Union” host Brianna Keilar asked Carson.
“It certainly is an act of extreme hatred and violence,” Carson responded.