As the tragedy unfolded in Colorado Springs, the first two presidential candidates to comment on the massacre at Planned Parenthood were, predictably, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republican candidates were mostly conspicuous by their immediate silence surrounding the assault on the Colorado clinic.
Both Clinton and Sanders used the hashtag #StandwithPP, when responding to the clinic shooting. As events were unfolding, Clinton was the first candidate to tweet on Friday. She tweeted:
Today, and every day, we #StandwithPP.
We proudly #StandwithPP of Colorado Springs and the brave law enforcement personnel who fought to protect it.
Ten hours after the shooting had taken place, not a single one of the 14 Republican presidential candidates had tweeted any condolences, concerns, or thoughts of solidarity with the victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting.
On Saturday morning, Texas Senator Ted Cruz finally broke the GOP silence, by tweeting:
Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured & first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs.
As of noon Eastern time, none of the 13 other GOP hopefuls had mentioned the Planned Parenthood shooting on their Twitter feeds. Now clearly, a tweet of comfort or solidarity is the least a candidate can do, and Twitter should not be viewed as a direct proxy for a candidate’s level of compassion or empathy.
Nevertheless, it is rather telling that members of the Republican Party who are eager to denounce the first sign of violence at a “black lives matter” protest, and who go into a tweeting frenzy over terrorist attacks launched by Muslims, are silent when terror strikes home at a women’s health clinic.
Many of the Republicans refuse to even stand with Planned Parenthood workers and their families when they are victims of a murderous unprovoked assault on their clinic. Supposed moderates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie should be embarrassed that they got shown up on the compassion scale by Ted Cruz, of all people, who though he was a bit slow, at least had the decency to post some concern for the victims of the attack.
Bush, Kasich and Christie, however, are probably well aware that if they are going to try to win over Iowa evangelical GOP voters, they must not appear too upset about the Planned Parenthood killings, so they and most of their fellow GOP candidates cower in silence, at a time when the courage to speak up is needed.