GOP Rep. Mark Sanford: Trump is 'partially' to blame for rhetoric that led to Va. baseball shooting

Rep. Mark Sanford said Thursday President Donald Trump was "partially" to blame for the hostile rhetoric in America that led to Wednesday's shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R.-La.) and several others at a congressional baseball practice.

"I would argue that the president has unleashed, partially, again not in anyway totally, but partially to blame for the demons that have been unleashed," the South Carolina Republican said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "The fact that you've got the top guy saying, 'I wish I can hit you in the face, if not why don't you and I'll pay your legal fees.' That's bizarre. We ought to call it as such."

RELATED: Shooting at congressional baseball practice

The congressman described a recent change in tone he has seen in local town hall meetings, noting a growing hostility that seems to be becoming a nationwide issue.

"I was at a town hall meeting -- it was at a senior center, at a retirement center -- and what took place in terms of what people were saying to each other was like out of a movie, and so we've got to find a way to dial this back," Sanford said.

SEE ALSO: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after surgery

Sanford added that there is "some heavy soul-searching going on right now" on Capitol Hill following Wednesday's shooting.

A lone shooter, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, approached members of Congress and aides while they were practicing for an upcoming baseball game on Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia and opened fire. Five people were injured, and Rep. Scalise remains in critical condition.