Predictably, Democrats, Republicans Don't Agree On Charleston Causes, Solutions : It's All Politics The shooting at a historically black church in Charleston briefly put a pause on the campaign. But eventually politics crept back in, and both sides, as usual, took different lessons from the tragedy.

Predictably, Democrats, Republicans Don't Agree On Charleston Causes, Solutions

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Tragedies like this one eventually find their way into the realm of politics. Already, Democrats and Republicans are finding different ways of talking about the killings in Charleston. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The horrific news broke this week just as the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition was preparing for a three-day conference in Washington, featuring a dozen GOP presidential hopefuls. The event went forward. Senator Ted Cruz spoke yesterday morning.


TED CRUZ: And I just wanted to begin with a moment of silence, remembering those were murdered last night.

GONYEA: Also, that morning, Senator Rand Paul had, perhaps, the most directly political comments.


RAND PAUL: What kind of person goes in a church and shoots nine people? There's a sickness in our country. There's something terribly wrong, but it isn't going to be fixed by your government.

GONYEA: The one candidate to speak at the event over the past two days who didn't weigh in on Charleston was Senator Marco Rubio. He delivered a standard campaign speech. But this morning got underway with this from Governor Chris Christie...


CHRIS CHRISTIE: It's depraved. It's unthinkable. We can't put our minds around conduct like that, can we?

GONYEA: ...And Jeb Bush.


JEB BUSH: I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes. But I do know - I do know what was in the heart of the victims.

GONYEA: Also, retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson.


BEN CARSON: And if we don't pay close attention to the hatred and the division that's going on in our nation, this is just a harbinger of what we can expect.

GONYEA: Carson is African American, and there he seemed to be alluding to race, but he did not mention it explicitly, nor did any of the other Republican candidates. Democrats have raised that subject, however, and also guns. President Obama spoke at the White House.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.

GONYEA: And it was this from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: In order to make sense of it, we have to be honest. We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division.

GONYEA: The presidential hopeful who was closest to this story is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is from South Carolina. He spoke to CNN.


LINDSEY GRAHAM: Really, the last thing on my mind right now is a political debate. My job is to be here and to show solidarity with my community and my state.

GONYEA: But on the gun-control debate, he did weigh in, saying it's a matter of fixing the existing system of background checks, where too many fall through the cracks.


GRAHAM: If I get to be president of the United States, you fail a criminal background check, you try to buy a gun when you're not supposed to, you're going to meet the law head-on.

GONYEA: The challenge for every politician talking about this event is balance. They want to weigh in. They want to express condolences. But there's always the danger of looking like you're exploiting a tragedy. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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