As members of Congress gathered to pray earlier Wednesday following the shooting that wounded Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally took a moment to talk to her Democratic colleague Tom O'Halleran.

It was a brief talk, but McSally said she wanted to reach out to the newest member of the Arizona delegation — he represents District 1 — in the aftermath of the shooting. "Our district knows better than any what these things are like," McSally told the Arizona Daily Star.

McSally represents Congressional District 2, the same district held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in 2011 that left six people dead and 13 wounded on the northwest side of Tucson.

The Tucson Republican learned of Wednesday's shooting at an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field from text messages and was hoping the information was not correct.

McSally later gathered with her colleagues inside the halls of Congress to pray for those shot and their families.

McSally said she believes the heated political rhetoric played a role in this shooting.

McSally repeated the boiling frog parable she has used to discuss the current political culture, arguing the American public is like the frog being slowly boiled alive. The frog, according to the parable, would leap out of a boiling pot, but does not notice a steady increase in the heat and dies as the water slowly gets hotter.

Both parties, she said, need to lower the temperature of the rhetoric. "We are all responsible for bringing the temperature down," she said. "The enemy is not each other, we have real enemies out there."

The retired Air Force colonel said both sides of the political aisle can work together. She offered as an example her working relationship with Tucson colleague U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, one of the most liberal members in the House.

"We have sincerely held disagreements on nearly everything," she said. But, she says, they have productive, civil discussions all the time about issues facing Southern Arizona.

"I think we all need to do that," McSally said.

Last month, McSally's office received three separate messages threatening to shoot her for her support of President Trump.

FBI agents arrested Steve Martan, 58, in connection with the threatening messages.

With increased political scrutiny, including frequent protests outside of her office, McSally said she has no plans to cancel any future meetings with the public.

Reporter

Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.