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Mr. Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, were among the lawmakers to cancel planned stump appearances.

But the effort to score political points precisely over political rhetoric continued Sunday.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Democratic minority whip, said everybody, including members of Congress, must be aware that their words have consequence, but appeared to put the news media at the top of his list.

“Far too many broadcasts now in so many outlets have the intent of inciting and inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I think we need to all take cognizance of that and be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences.”

Mr. Alexander cautioned during his appearance with Mr. Durbin on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “we have to be very careful about imputing the motives or the actions of a deranged individual to any particular group of Americans who have their own political beliefs.”

He noted Mr. Laughner’s barely coherent and paranoid political writings are “not the profile of a typical tea party member, if that’s the inference that’s being made.”

Republicans also pointed out Sunday that martial metaphors are common in politics on all sides. For example, Mr. Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

Meanwhile Sunday, Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, brought a budget angle to the table, saying that Republicans should not cut House members’ budgets as planned because more money for security might be needed.

Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday” that House leaders should look at congressional members’ security and personal spending accounts “rather than cut, cut, cut.”

The Republican-controlled House voted last week in favor of cutting the chamber’s operating budget by 5 percent, which is expected to save roughly $35 million. The vote will trim the roughly $1.5 million budget for each of the chamber’s 435 members by roughly $75,000, which will likely result in smaller staffs.

Speculation also centered on whether Mrs. Giffords may have been targeted because she is Jewish and the Anti-Defamation League put out a statement.

But everybody associated with Mrs. Giffords remarked on her low-key style of compromise.

“She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring,” Mr. Obama said. “She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, on ABC’s “This Week” said: “Gabby Giffords was a role model. She was a person who was passionate about issues but very even-tempered in her approach to things.”

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