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Speaker Paul Ryan says Maxine Waters should apologize for Trump administration rhetoric

Sanders responds to restaurant controversy
Sanders responds to restaurant controversy 00:54

Republican leaders are calling on a Democratic lawmaker to apologize for urging her supporters to "push back" on Trump administration officials when they see them in public. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the remarks from Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California are dangerous.

Ryan told reporters on Tuesday, "There's no place for this. She obviously should apologize."

"When we, in this democracy, are suggesting that because we disagree with people on political views, on policy views, on philosophical views, that we should resort to violence and harassment and intimidation, that's dangerous for our society, it's dangerous for our democracy. She should apologize and there's just no place for that in our public discourse,"  he added. 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was shot last year at a congressional baseball practice, said lawmakers need to discuss disagreements in a civil way and be careful "not to incite others to violence." 

Waters, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, told rally-goers in her Los Angeles district over the weekend to confront Trump administration members when they're in public and "tell them they're not welcome." 

"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them," Waters said Saturday in Los Angeles. Her comments came came after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia over the weekend. Sanders said that she was told to leave because of who she worked for.  

On Monday, Waters' Democratic colleagues swiftly condemned her comments. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi publicly scolded Waters, tweeting "Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea." 

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer meanwhile took to the Senate floor, saying he strongly disagrees "with those who advocate harassing folks if they don't agree with you."

"No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. that's not right. that's not American. The best solution is to win elections.  That is a far more productive way to channel the legitimate frustrations with this president's policies than harassing members of his administration," Schumer added. 

An advocate for civility, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, talked with CBS News about whether the tone of the public discourse is any worse historically than it's been before now.

"We've spoken to political historians on both ends of the continuum -- liberal and conservative -- and to a person, they say that this attack on each other because of our differences, at the real people-to-people level hasn't happened in this country since the post-Civil War Reconstruction / Jim Crow era," Lukensmeyer said. "There is no doubt that what we are seeing today is really different." 

The president, too, has leapt into the verbal fray, tweeting of Waters that she is "an extraordinarily low IQ person." And he answered her call for "push back" against those affiliated with him with what sounded like his own threat.

"She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!" he said. 

Waters has since defended herself, but did not apologize to Sanders. 

"I have not called for the harm of anybody," she said. "This president has lied again when he's saying I called for harm for anyone. I am having sleepless nights about the children, and really, I don't want to engage constantly with this lying president. This Don the Con man will say anything. He is the one who is responsible for promoting violence."

Though Lukensmeyer seems dismayed by the uptick in coarse language and behavior in partisan politics, the percentage of Americans taking part in such behavior is low.

"There's 15 percent on the far right and 15 percent on the far left that are engaging in this real incivility," Lukensmeyer said. "But the vast majority of Americans really know it's wrong and really want to do something about it," she said.  She also cited a survey by Weber Shandwick, taken this year, which said 75 percent of Americans think incivility is a crisis. The same survey said that 98 percent of Americans agree that the president should be civil in a democracy.

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