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

    Taking down the site with the cross hairs speaks for itself. Her folks clearly grasped the connection and scrambled for distance.

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

    Sarah Palin is, I'm sure, horrified that she is being linked to this terrible tragedy...but she did it to herself!! She needs to know that her words have consequences...if she is still able to be a politician after this terrible gaff, then I hope she has learned a valuable lesson and will no longer paint the other side politically as bad people...she was the one in poor taste...shame on Sarah!!

    January 9, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Larry Linn

    Public figures should be civil and cautious in their actions, comments, and other expressions. There a people with sociopathic tendencies in all political realms. John Hinckley, Jr., was not motivated to advance a political position. He was motivated by a target. I was offended by Sarah Palin listing people as targets and using riflescope crosshairs. I would be equally offended if the same technique were used by a liberal, a moderate, or any other political persona.

    January 9, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Don

    No, this is what gun-related, political rhetoric does. Why didn't he go shoot somewhere else where there were no Democratic politicians? If you think that this wasn't a political shooting, then you out of your mind. This happened because of Palin and Kelly, period. This guy clearly went after her specifically and then just started shooting every Democratic supporter there.

    January 9, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. John

    Sarah Palin did not pull the trigger, but she added fuel to the already major firestorm this country has been under. It is sick and disgusting that Palin did this. She is undoubtedly complicit in this act, but obviously not entirely responsible. Nonetheless, Palin needs to stay in Alaska and refrain from her political jargon.

    January 9, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Tom

    what about all those teaparty fools who brought signs that says, "we came unarmed..this time" and many others similar to that!
    Or even folks who actually brought assault rifles to republican political rallies.While I agree most do not advocate violence the fact that these type of signs are even made and carried so casually in public all over is just a sign of the violent nature of many right wingers.

    January 9, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. JD

    It's a surveyor symbol...yeah, that's it. Has nothing to do with crosshairs, or with "targeting" any districts. It's a surveyor's symbol. People will buy that.

    January 9, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Dan

    As a hunter, anyone who didn't at least think of the cross hairs symbol relating to a gun is kidding themselves.

    Using these ridiculous symbols only hurts America.

    January 9, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. gentwelve

    I think that Palin, Limbaugh, Beck etc.. are jsut gonna lay low on this one. I believe the shooter left clues that would infer left and/or right wing ideaology, an equal opportunity anacrchist. Plenty of opportunity for the afforementiond "celebs" to cash in on this tragedy.

    January 9, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. islandboi

    I am almost afraid to post my true feelings. I wouldnt want anyone to put "surveyor symbols" on me!

    January 9, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Paul Ernest Show

    Denial is a great human tool to avoid reality. What's so disgusting and appalling is the fact that Palin, her aides and the GOP cannot see the link between their rhetoric and extremists actions. Two and half years ago, it was a Democratic party chairman from Arkansas shot dead over politics, and now a 9years old girl,a judge,including a congress woman, are victims of these extremist views. At a time when people are being charged with crimes for cyber bulling, over people they have never met nor spoken to face to face, it's about time that some of these GOP politicians and activists are charged with crimes over incitements. We cannot charge people with internet bullying when these extremists are openly before our eyes, on TV, indirectly encouraging violence and mayhem.

    January 9, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Jenny

    It appears to me that what Palin does is to stir things up and make money. The media and uneducated followers help her achieve that at the expense of stalled political agenda and blood of nice, innnocent people. David Brooks, a conservative conclumnist, correctly predicted two years ago that Palin is "cancer" of the Republican party.

    January 9, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Jeff

    What's appalling is Sarah Palin's inciting violence and then pleading innocence. Sarah Palin and the others who countenanced this language and similar language like "excercising 2nd amendment rights" and how the tree of liberty needs to be refreshed have blood on their hands. They are no more believable than a bartender who serves someone 10 shots of liquor and then claims they have no responsibility when the person gets in their car, drives drunk and kills someone.

    January 9, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. gaillog

    So typical of Palin to not take any resposiblitiy for anything, including the office she was elected to.. She is discusting. Maybe if she made credible, intelligent arguments for her positions instead of the hyperbole she usually spews, we wouldn't have people with issues trying to take matters into their own hands and taking her rhetoric literally. It's ok for her to say it's just politics, but when someone really takes her up on her suggestions, she really didn't mean it. You can't have it both ways Sarah.

    January 9, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Modern Family

    Sorry there is nothing that can be said or done to distance the Tea Party and Sarah Palin from this act of terror. Her rhetoric and that of people like her has come home to roost. Sarah has the blood of six innocent people including a child on her hands and THAT will never wash off.

    January 9, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. mlc in CA

    I think the bigotry and hatred brewing beneath the surface of the current state of politics in the country fuel and encourage these kinds of violent acts. Palin's lack of thoughtful speech, her constant, spiteful remarks, and her atrocious self-promoting divisiveness are a classic role model for the ego-driven motives of so many who enter public office at this time. Drawing cross hairs over others' faces should be considered a form of hate speech. This kind of violent image is propaganda in action. Palin represents nothing but her own ego. She is a negative influence. Note that her staff are already saying the shooter is reported to have "liberal" leanings, whatever that means. Anything to the left of right-wing nut job would be liberal to Palin and her posse.

    January 9, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Thebigtime

    Of course Sarah Palin didn't mean for anybody to get shot...However it was in very poor taste to place a map of the U.S. online with gun sights pasted all over the place, even for a political agenda...There are plenty of crazy people out there that will look at something like that and take it literally...Doesen't matter if that had anything to do with this or not it was a bad idea...

    January 9, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Connie in Texas

    Sarah Palin and her minions need to take ownership and accept responsibility for their choice of words. They wrote it, they are responsible for what happens as a result of it. Words matter. Period. As far as the Teaparty goes, aren't they the ones who show up at political events carrying guns? I've yet to see a liberal show up carrying weapons. Remember, us libs are lazy, kumbaya, dirty fricking hippies, with no guts, right? The teaparty folk love to remind us all how they love and support their second admendment rights. They made it quite clear they are the tough guys with guns while libs are wussies, so it's quite disingenious to try to accuse liberals of "doing the same thing". Sarah Palin is done. She wouldn't be able to get elected as a dog catcher in Wasilla after this. Now that her realty show is canceled, she should look into the taxidermy business. She can whine all day long to her clients who can't disagree with her.

    January 9, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. EJ

    Ok, so the Palin team now wants to 'retreat?' Its still hypocrisy to take that position now that someone has actually done what they suggested... I really hope this sticks to her and the others like her that resorted to hate and bigotry as campaign boosters. Normal people don't do that

    January 9, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. wow47

    Hate radio and hate tv are and have been contributing to this kind of thing for a very long time...too long IMO...and I find them extremely unAmerican – and IMO it is time for the Justice Department to take control and investigate these fools – we cannot have a civilized society when there are hate mongers inciting murder of our representatives and officials...Past time to put a stop to them – oh, and by the way – it has nothing to do with freedom of speech – Freedom of Speech has responsibility with it...

    January 9, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Aatami

    How did we ever get into the situation that an ignorant and failed housewife could hold such sway in terms of the greater public. Palin's people can deny all they want but the thinking public knows the truth and that truth is that the ignorance and stupidity of the right wingers and tea baggers are responsible through their use of violent rhetoric, thinly veiled threats used to incite fear and violence in their ignorant and uneducated followers. "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." – Isaac Asimov

    January 9, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. Jeff

    It doesn't matter that the web posting wasn't designed to cause violence. It was irresponsible and it did cause violence. It's called unintended consequences and those consequences are just are real as intended consequences. Sarah Palin and her staff should be ashamed of themselves and the American people should hold her responsible for it by retracting and withholding any and all support for her.

    January 9, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. Annonmuys

    Churchill said " Democracy is the worse form of the government"

    Mao said "power comes from the barrel of the gun"
    politicians and media have just spun the above arguments by their rhetoric. however will someone tell me what was the fault of the 9 year old girl. I bet she did not even know the difference between republicans & democrats, gun rights and gun control. still she she died so that hateful agenda of a few could move forward. Its is Americans who have to put a stop to this by boycotting people who teach and preach hate.

    democracy tests people time and again, failure is not an option because the life of my and your child is on the line.

    January 9, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. Luria Dickson

    Regarding Ms. Palin's actions, Facebook posts and comments: What we do and say affects other people and it is very foolish and shortsighted to now claim that crosshairs has no reference to guns and violence. Palin has repeatedly used her flip, unsubstaniated and historicaly ignorant comments to inflame the electorate – "her fans", and cannot now claim surprise that some disturbed, young person acted upon her suggestions. If I was working for the Attorney General's office I would try and figure out a way to bring charges against her for inciting violence and conspiracy. You can't say oop's!, sorry when you should have thought about that when you were running around being so mean spirited during the last few years.

    January 9, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. scotchy

    Hey, @Time Grows Short: Obama said that once, in jest, during a campaign rally in Philadelphia in 2008. He was referring to campaign battles, Eagles fans and folks who like "a good brawl." Frankly, I think someone who considers the President to be a terrorist is the one who needs an FBI tail.

    January 9, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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