By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — The tone of politics is something both current Gov. Mark Dayton, and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty were asked about on national TV.

On the talk show circuit, Pawlenty’s been the go-to Republican for comment on the Arizona shooting tragedy. And he’s been careful to decry the violence, but defend the political rhetoric that some are asserting helped cause it.

“We’ve got to be really careful here, because if you start saying you can do this, you can’t do that. You can use this tone but you can’t use that tone. And pretty soon, you start to discourage, maybe chill debate. I even caught myself today, I was talking about hockey fights and I thought maybe I shouldn’t bring that up now,” Pawlenty said on “The Daily Show.”

On Monday, the entire staff of Minnesota’s new governor observed a moment of silence for the Arizona victims. And he criticized Sarah Palin’s use of rifle crosshairs on a website targeting Congressional districts.

But on MSNBC Thursday, Dayton backed off, declining to comment on whether gun laws should be enhanced.

“I don’t think this is the moment to get into policy disputes,” he said on the show.

The nationwide debate on overheated political rhetoric continues as the funerals of the Arizona victims take place. And unlike Pawlenty, Dayton says there is a connection.

“We need to think carefully about what we say. Especially people in leadership positions because words have effects, and sometimes they influence people to do terrible things,” Dayton said.

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler Reports


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