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Republicans join call for Trayvon Martin inquiry

 

Republicans joined the call for an investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on Friday, adding rare, bipartisan support in the racially-charged case.

The main Republican presidential contenders each decried the shooting of Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, allegedly by a neighborhood watch member, and joined with President Obama and other Democrats in supporting a Department of Justice investigation into the incident.

"What happened to Trayvon Martin is a tragedy. There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity," Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney said in a statement.

Rick Santorum, Romney's main rival for the GOP nomination, added: "It's a horrible case, and it's chilling to hear what happened ... I think it's pretty clear the problems we're seeing in this case, and hopefully the state Attorney General and local community is reacting and responding, and hopefully this matter will be an example of what law enforcement has to do in a case like this."

President Obama addresses the Trayvon Martin shooting from a White House Rose Garden event.

President Obama only addressed the issue on Friday, but he commented in especially personal terms.

"My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin: if I had a son he'd look like Trayvon," he said at a press conference this morning at the White House, where he also nominated a new World Bank president.

"I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal state and local to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened," he said.

Martin's death has become a flashpoint for the issue of race in America; Rev. Al Sharpton (the host of a commentary program on MSNBC) led a rally in Sanford, Fla., the location of the shooting. And the Congressional Black Caucus led the charge in calling for a Department of Justice investigation into how local authorities handled the incident.

The issue has evolved across party lines, though.

Maybe the most significant support, though, came from Rep. Allen West, a Florida lawmaker who's one of two African-American Republicans in Congress. He backed the Department of Justice inquiry, but cautioned observers of the shooting to let cooler heads prevail over the course of the inquiry.

"I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences," West wrote on his Facebook page. "This is an outrage."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the incident a "tragedy of huge proportions" on Capitol Hill this morning, where he expressed support for an investigation, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the shooting a "tragedy" that warrants a grand jury investigation.