Adviser: Linking Palin to shootings 'appalling'
Well wishers hold vigil outside Tucson hospital Saturday
January 9th, 2011
12:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Adviser: Linking Palin to shootings 'appalling'

Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin's political aide removed a controversial web post Saturday after a gunman attempted to assassinate an Arizona congresswoman in a mass killing that left, among others, a 9-year-old girl dead.

But a Palin aide Saturday denied the web posting from the 2010 congressional campaign - featuring gun sights over the congressional districts of 20 Democratic candidates – was designed to incite violence. Rebecca Mansour told conservative host Tammy Bruce that it was a political tool and noted it should have been removed after the November election.

And Mansour chastised critics who tried to link Palin to the shooting Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, that left Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.

"We are all looking at our Twitter feeds and I am seeing people and it's really sad," Mansour said in the interview that is posted on Bruce's web site. "People actually accuse Gov. Palin of this. It's appalling. Appalling. I cannot even express how disgusting that is."

Shortly after Giffords was shot Saturday, the issue of heated political rhetoric became a hot topic on the blogs and on the cable news channels. Palin's "Take Back the 20" web posting became an example for some people who said it has gone too far. And when a Palin political aide had it removed from the website, critics suggested the former Alaska governor was trying to distance herself from the shooting.

"We had thought that 'Take back the 20' was taken down after the November election because it's irrelevant now," Mansour said. "And they called us this morning and said, 'Do you want us to take this thing down?' Because they realized instantly, you know."

"And I think, you know, just reflectively without even thinking about any consequences, our PAC treasurer said, 'Well it should have been down already. Why is it still up? We are not paying for that. It is not getting any traffic. It is no longer relevant.' So it was taken down."

"It was not trying to scrub anything. The original Facebook post where we had this graphic is still up. And I just want to clarify again, maybe it wasn't done on the record enough by us when this graphic came out, the graphic is, we never, ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply crosshairs."

Bruce then interjected, describing the marks on the map as a "surveyor symbol," and Mansour agreed. "It is a surveyor symbol."

Palin's "Take Back the 20" was an effort to defeat Democrats who voted for healthcare reform and represented congressional districts that Sen. John McCain and Palin, then Alaska governor, carried in the 2008 presidential election.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee issued a statement Saturday expressing remorse for the victims.

"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona," Palin wrote in a note placed on her PAC's web site and Facebook page. "On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."

Mansour, in her interview with Bruce, said she didn't "understand how anybody can be held responsible for somebody who is completely mentally unstable like this.

"Where I come from the person that is actually shooting is the one that's culpable," she said. "We had nothing whatsoever to do with this."

She also noted that early reporting indicated the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was believed to hold "liberal views." Mansour added, "But that is not to say I am blaming the left either. He is clearly mentally unstable."

Mansour also said the controversial web posting had been designed by a political consultant.

"We saw it really quickly and we said, 'Yeah, that's fine, that's great,'" Mansour said. "We had never even imagined or occurred to us that anybody would interpret it as violence, because it's not. And you know what, targeting congressional swing districts, targeting swing races, just is part of our Democratic process. Everybody does this. And it is the way the process is supposed to work. What is not supposed to happen in our democratic system is for lone, crazy gunmen to commit mass murder like this, like we saw today."

CNN has left a message with Mansour seeking further comment.

– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report


Filed under: Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords • Sarah Palin
soundoff (406 Responses)
  1. George

    crosshairs? hmm, let's see what can we associate those with? Oh, yes. Guns.

    Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Also, she clearly thrived and benefitted from a rhetoric that raised the stakes on issues. Crazy statements > heard by crazy people > generates crazy behavior. No, she isn't to blame for this but certainly more than anyone else on the national stage fostered and fomented the environment that makes these things possible.

    January 9, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Lizzy10

    I don't think that Sarah Palin was responsible for the shooting, that was an act by an unstable person. I do believe that Sarah Palin is responsible in part for easy gun access and that this unstable person was able to take advantage of that and obtain a 9mm Glock. It amazes me that we are still having this conversation in this day and age, when tighter gun control laws may have prevented this. The right to bear arms should not include guns that make it easier to kill the greatest amount of people in the shortest time, bullets that can pierce a law enforcement officials vest or the ability to buy unlimited amounts of weapons. I don't contest owning guns, I grew up around guns but I think some limits to what is purchased and who is allowed to purchase weapons needs to be addressed.

    January 9, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. GMSamaras

    If Palin et al. are not culpable, why is Manson in jail?

    January 9, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. PDM

    The shooter's ex-girlfriend describes him as hard left politically, so I don't understand the rhetoric being kicked around. He was obviously mentally unbalanced (leftwing) and possibly mentally ill. Senseless loss of lives. I am sure that the administration will attempt spin this crisis. I wonder how many people recognized this wack-job as a "timebomb" but decided not to get involved.

    January 9, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Joan

    The targets on the twently districts is just one example of how ex Governor Palin has incited hatred and fear. When she said Pres. Obama "palled around with terrorists" at her rallies and allowed people to shout "kill him" she went over the line. Saying over and over that there were "death panels" in the health care bill that everyone knows are non-existent is another example. She gleefully supported Tea Party members who continued to play with the truth during their campaigns. She has to look in the mirror and live with her dangerous words. The media and some Republicans can gloss it over as much as they want, but the truth is obvious.

    January 9, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. CanadianObserver

    The shucking and jiving of Ms. Palin's "political aide" is symptomatic of what is happening in American political discourse generally. Nobody seems willing to be accountable for what they actually say or do, nor for the subtle but deliberate negative sub-text embedded in their messages. Neither Palin nor the Tea Party is "responsible" for this third-world political act, that's on Loughner, but they are all, Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, accountable for the increasing nastiness, the increasing incivility, and the drift towards downright evil that is poisoning America.

    January 9, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Woower

    Actions have consequences and Palin's website was knowingly incendiary. The implied violence of her web site bears some serious responsibility. Inciting violence is not protected free speech and Palin's website suggests violence.

    January 9, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Appalled

    I don't know what's more appalling a mentally troubled person gunning down 12 people or the idiots politicizing the issue. Neither Obama nor Palin pulled the trigger. Drinking and driving is the highest cause of non-disease related death which is far more than gun violence. So shouldn't you focus your attention on banning all vehicles and alcohol?

    January 9, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. walter

    Who's to say that Loughner wasn't encouraged to do this by reading a posting on the ultra-left side DailyKos where are poster complains about the Congresswoman voting against the sainted Pelosi. The screaming headline says "She's dead to me." If a Republican had said that there would have been calls for identifying the poster, but since it's a leftist site, no one cares – let's blame the right instead. Pathetic.

    January 9, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. jmarm

    Sarah Palin, with her gun mentality, does nothing for the unity of this great country of America. She is filled with vitriole and a desire to milk the "sheep" people of all that she can get. She will never hold a leadership position. Intelligent people have her figured out and now she has one more mark on her record.

    January 9, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Matt

    Palin is responsible for inspiring these murders, including the murder of an innocent 9 year old girl; and hopefully she and the Tea Party will bed held responsible...and pay dearly...

    January 9, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. John

    If the Palin web group didn't know it was wrong, they wouldn't have removed it from their web site now! Can't go into a theater and yell fire but you can say anything you want online!

    January 9, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. BrianH

    I wouldn't vote for Palin for dog catcher in Wassila. Having said that, this witch hunt would be amusing, if it wasn't so damaging to free speech.

    Crazy people do things for crazy reasons. David Chapman killed John Lennon after reading "The Catcher In the Rye". Does anyone here hold J.D. Salinger responsible for Lennon's death? Any half-wit can understand putting someone "in the crosshairs" as a political metaphor for defeating them in an election. To suggest that it is inciting violence is either disingenuous, moronic, or both.

    January 9, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. timz

    "Bruce then interjected, describing the [crosshairs] on the map as a 'surveyor symbol,' and Mansour agreed. 'It is a surveyor symbol.'"

    This kind of fundamental dishonesty in the aftermath of this tragedy is what's truly appalling.

    The people, including Sarah Palin, who have continually ratcheted up the aggressive and even violent rhetoric on the right should honestly address their culpability. C'mon, Sarah . . . let's talk about "reloading" some more.

    January 9, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. islandboi

    Only the person "responsible" is "culpable"? Wow! What a concept! That would be like blaming Sadaam Hussein for 9/11 and we know Republicans would never do that!

    January 9, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Ed

    Accessing blame against office holders for causing this tragedy is the rhetoric of a moron. This is a psycho gun toting nut with demons in his head telling him to make this statement. His failure came about because he didn't get the change to kill himself. Certainly he would want that outcome. No one who would do this would want to face the horrific nightmare of the aftermath. Especially someone so young with perhaps 60 years ahead of him in the torture of a maximum penitentiary is a true nightmare. He can only hope he can find a way to commit suicide or some other inmate will shank him to death. I feel he is the 2011 version of Charles Manson.

    January 9, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Donnatella

    This best think about this horrible tragedy is the fact that Sarah Palin is done in politics, nobody is going to back her now it will be political suicide, if that hit list was not part of the problem why was it taken down can anybody answer that for me?

    January 9, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. Peter Haskett

    Like everything else posted on the Internet, the crosshairs map will never go away. It will forever identify Sarah Palin with extremism and violence and perpetually connect her with the deaths of six innocents in Tucson.

    This kills Palin's presidential hopes.

    It may spell the end of any meaningful role for her in politics.

    It makes her toxic—and probably unbankable—as a media figure.

    Palin, Sharron Angle, and others on the extreme right have played the violent-rhetoric card for too long. Now it's playing them. There, at least, is some of the justice that Palin claims to be praying for.

    January 9, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. SarahCuda is responsible for this !

    Sarah Palin put cross heirs over Democratic congress member's on her website ! There is no coincidence she took the photos down shortly after the shooting's ! Sure she didn't pull the trigger but she loaded the gun with her hateful and divisive rhetoric and left the loaded gun on a table of a room full of idiot's ! It was just a matter of time before one of them picked that gun up and used it ! Enough is enough ! Enough with the politics of hatred and division ! Go away Sarah our country doesn't need people like you !

    January 9, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. millie

    What right winger states the Communist Manifesto as one of his admired readings? He is nuts....period.

    January 9, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. cs crash

    Intention is not a prequisite for culpability. Reckless and uncivil discourse by certain individuals is the root, although the shooter bears ultimate responsibility. Let's all dial it back and stop trying to exploit frustration, whether economically based or otherwise, to gain political points or limelight.

    January 9, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. fayse

    Regardless of her intentions, the site using the cross hairs was irresponsible.

    January 9, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. MarthaGetMyGun

    The Chickens have finally come home to roost!

    January 9, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Ricky L

    What's appalling is the language Palin uses to demonize her political opponents.

    One chicken has come home to roost.

    And I fear that if those on the right don't begin to take some responsibility for the response their rhetoric might evoke among their emotionally- and mentally-challenged brethren, we are going to see recurrences of this horrific act.

    January 9, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. Joseph

    Tea Party = Treason.

    January 9, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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