Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), who won by less than 700 votes, said her campaign made her realize "how hard I have to work and how hard I have to work to unify the district, and for those who didn't support me, to make sure they have a good representative here in Washington." It was just that outlook that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) had, too, as she worked to reach out to constituents, Republican and Democrats, on the corner outside a Safeway last Saturday.
Still, some of the outspoken voices from last year, are unlikely to tone down their rhetoric much. Tea party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-Fla) has already pushed back at Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's (D-Fla.) call for more temperate rhetoric. And if anything, the left's rush to point fingers after the shooting could make Tea Party acolytes more upset -- they've already sent out a fundraising email on just that premise. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also sent out a fundraising letter, citing the political climate that he says contributed to the attack - greeted, privately, with outrage by Republicans.
But for some, especially for ones where the tragedy hit close to home, perhaps the stinging attacks will resonate.
"When I show up at a candlelight vigil sponsored by the state Democratic Party and people who spent the past year beating the crap out of me come up and give me a hug, there is something that, at least for a little while, in this window, is very different," freshman Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.) told Politico.
It was a sentiment Obama echoed in his speech Wednesday evening in Tucson, too, telling mourners that "at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."
Stepping back is good. But looking forward is better -- and remembering that the person you're launching that verbal grenade at is a person too.
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