Florida Republicans decried the violence at the pro-Trump protest but appeared careful not to condemn the president.
BY RYAN DAILEY
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Republicans decried scenes of chaos and violence in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building and shut down congressional debate over the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Thousands of protesters, including many dressed in paramilitary gear, had gathered outside the Capitol in advance of what was expected to be a vote on the election certification on Wednesday.
But pandemonium in and around the Capitol called a halt to the proceedings and blocked members of Congress from voting, as they were rushed to secure locations as a mob gained entry to the building.
Florida Republicans, including many who have supported Trump throughout his candidacy and his four-year tenure as president, took to social media to disavow the violence.
But as reactions poured in, the state’s GOP leaders appeared careful not to condemn the president himself.
Governor Ron DeSantis weighed in with a statement less than two hours after the scene began to unfold in the nation’s capital.
“Violence or rioting of any kind is unacceptable and the perpetrators must face the full weight of the law. The Capitol Police do an admirable job and I thank them for their hard work,” the Republican governor said.
DeSantis has proposed a measure for the 2021 legislative session that would crack down on violent protesters in Florida.
Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, also condemned the violent behavior.
“In a democracy, rioting, violence and lawlessness are repugnant and unacceptable. This isn’t a peaceful protest. It’s a tragic, cowardly and un-American spectacle,” Sprowls, a former prosecutor, tweeted.
The state’s two Republican U.S. senators were among those who rushed to condemn the chaotic scenes.
“There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill. This is 3rd world style anti-American anarchy,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted.
Rubio also asked Trump to send “resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”
In a Twitter post, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said, “Everyone has a right to peacefully protest.”
“No one has a right to commit violence. What happened today at the Capitol is disgraceful and un-American. It is not what our country stands for,” Scott, a former Florida governor, said.
‘A dark moment’
Presidential electors throughout the country certified their state election results in December, all but dissolving Republicans’ hopes that Trump still had a path to the 270 electoral votes required for him to win a second term.
But Trump has refused to accept the election results, repeatedly saying the election was fraudulent and urging his supporters not to accept Biden as his successor.
Wednesday’s uprising came as Republican lawmakers began to object to the election results during floor debate around 2 p.m.
In a video released on Twitter, Trump urged protesters to go home.
“I know your pain. I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us,” he said. “But you have to go home now. We have to have law and order.”
Addressing the nation Wednesday afternoon, Biden called on Trump to “demand an end to this siege,” which he called “a dark moment” in the nation’s history.
“This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now,” Biden said.
The U.S. House and Senate were to resume their joint session Wednesday evening to certify the election results.
News Service assignment manager Tom Urban and staff writer Jim Turner contributed to this report.