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. Mr. Moderate

    There were dozens of other ways to identify politicians you would like to see removed from office. The gun metaphor was playing to her base who see it as all a big game (no pun intended). This debate should also include Palin's follow up tweet that praised the removal of 18 of the 20. That again singled out Giffords (I hope the other Rep has police protection now).

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

    They are really back pedalling on this one, but there are interviews and news stories from March 2009 when she originally posted the target map that were calling her out for inciting violence at the time and using the crosshairs. Even Elisabeth Hasselbeck even called it "Despicable" at the time. Palin said on video that she wasn't inciting violence, but she never said they were "surveying symbols" at that time. In fact, in the heat of the controversy is when she made her famous "Don't retreat, Reload" remark. She knew exactly how the ad was interepreted and didn't take it down until the day that innocent people lost their life. People repeatedly warned her it might lead to yesterday's events, but she didn't even remove it after the campaigning was over. It is appalling that now her aide is claiming that they were shocked by this & that it was removed for any reason other than yeserday's events. There are consequences to our actions. She should be apologizing, not playing cover up.

    January 9, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. James Carver

    Ah, so those were surveyor marks? That clears up a longstanding controversy: There is a famous, widely publicized photograph of Sarah Palin aiming what appears to be a military assault rifle equipped with a telescopic battle sight. In actuality, she is not. She is holding a 'stealth' version of a theodolite, and donating her time to assist a road crew in grading a new highway. It's all clear now. Surveyors marks...of course.

    January 9, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. CBR

    Ms. Palin, along with many others, have hinted at a call for arms if necessary to take back the country. Ms. Palin posted the map with the bull's eyes and talked about them. She pointed to the Congressional District of Rep. Giffords. How else do you score a bull's eye except with a weapon.

    No, she did not pull the trigger but she is responsible for what she says and how she says it. Her rhetoric is often combative in an attempt to win supporters to her causes and to her political party. Along with some members of the TEA Party and Republican party she has made statements that are over the top.

    January 9, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Abraxsys

    But *OF COURSE* this individual was mentally unbalanced. No one in their right mind would ever do such a horrific thing. But clearly from his digital footprint, it was politics that sent him over the edge.

    I think that this is an important point, because when politicians resort to vitriol in their political discourse, they appeal directly to the fringe and they run the risk of inciting them to action. I have interacted with a number of people who suffered from mental illnesses, and so many of them were afflicted with parnoia over the government. It is often a central hot-button for the mentally unstable.

    Over the course of the last two years, politicians have been grossly irresponsible and cavalier in their messaging. I think a number of them target their messaging to the fringe just to get their vote. And now that strategy is coming home to them. And I fear that this event may inspire others to similar acts of violence. It's a chilling thought, and a real possibility.

    The House has now suspended all legislation in the wake of this incident. And whether on the right or on the left, they should all be quite sobered by what has happened. I sincerely hope they come together and work at healing the rift that is tearing the country apart.

    Violence has no place in democracy. No matter what your point of view, if you resort to personal attacks and threats in your messaging, then you are guilty of spreading vitriol and inciting hatred. This goes for all citizens. If you cannot argue with reason, then you have no place stand in the discussion.

    January 9, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Woower

    A tort case brought by the victims against Palin might help drive home the issue of communicating responsibly with the reactionary right wing crowd.

    January 9, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. FloridaRes

    So Palin's aide thinks blaming Palin is "appalling". Well the map with the crosshairs on Giffords district and the don't retreat, reload comment from Palin were clear as could be to the nutcases in this country. I can make the connection also. The Tea Party should be repudiated (or should I say "refudiated" – Palin's new word) by every GOP member of Congress and politician – just look at the signs that were present at their rallies and at Congress when the Health Care Act was voted on! The pushing, shoving, spitting – all acts of violence that should have been seen as such. Sharron Angle with her reference to 2nd Amendment of Constitution – Tea Party. It is time to tone down the rhetoric and treat each other with civility. I don't see the Tea Party doing this at all. I am sick about what has happened in this country because of the lies, yelling (Yes Boehner in Congress with his horrendous YELL – HELL NO!), and other actions. Giffords (a BlueDog Dem) has been targetted for quite a while – her office in AZ was vandalized and she received Death Threats; there has been a demonizing of the Dems or anyone who disagreed with the GOP BY the GOP. Look I was a member of the GOP until all this horrendous GOP actions and speech against the Dems started – I just couldn't stand it anymore and felt the GOP was no longer my party. I hope things get better in the future.

    January 9, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Rob C

    Let our prayers be with the victims, and their families. As for Palin, how about we all ignore her in 2011. Maybe she will go the way of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

    January 9, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Colin

    Crosshairs on a map aren't really the problem, but misleading inflammatory rhetoric is. Of this, Palin is certainly guilty as are the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Michelle Bachman and the like.

    Convincing people that trying to eliminate pre-existing conditions for health care is somehow an assault on freedom where people "stand in front of Obama's 'death panel'" so, "bureaucrats can decide... whether you are worthy of health care" is DEFINITELY part of the problem. That's what Palin said about the legislation.

    She and McCain also whipped right-wingers into such a frenzy during election time, that their supports yelled "kill him" about Obama and threatened to start a violent revolution if the majority of Americans elected "socialist" Obama to office.

    It's sad to see the Palin advisor's reaction to the problem. Clearly the Palin camp doesn't see how their vitriol influences the right-wing extremists, so they almost certainly won't tone things down.

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. JA at O

    There is no doubt that words have power. They have the strength to persuade or to convince us that our beliefs are justified. The use of terms like CROSSHAIR (which I have never heard used with anything other than a gun) or RELOAD paint pretty clear pictures. There is a responsibility here. And it is a responsibility everyone shares. It's just that these types of words have been thrown around carelessly by certain individuals over and over. It is a fact. It happened. You can't say Sarah and Sharon didn't think about their choice of words when they used those violent references.

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Greg

    Sarah Palin is incapable of taking any responsibility for her actions. She is clearly the most divisive politician in the US today, but she won't admit that her actions and words can cause any harm.

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. CC

    This was a horrific act, maybe now we can see how powerful negative words and hate are and move towards an America that is one people, we all have the same needs and desires, we need to realize that. We need to ALL allow our current president the opportunity with Congress to come together and work for us towards a more united America. This hate and finger pointing, an eye for an eye is making everyone blind, and I personally desperately want to see more love. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, I watched the second tower drop, I remember how everyone was on the streets as one united contry in pain and sorrow. Lets all be in pain and sorrow that these shootings happened and learn from them, this was a crime against Americans by an American, that is not acceptable. The hate and lies about one another have to stop. United we stand, divided we fall...

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. A female in Wyoming

    Methinks Palin is finally done. She has cooked her own goose by using words and graphics that reference violence. Not everyone is mentally stable and may construe these messages as a call for action. Shame on any public figure, regardless of which side they are on, who uses their position irresponsibly. Those said people should then be removed from the public arena. Buh bye Sarah! Yeah, you betcha.

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. KatR

    The symbology of using guns against political opponents is uncivilized. Most gun-owning Americans would never act upon such rhetoric.However, mentally unstable people have done so many times in this country. For Palin's staff to state their crosshairs map was acceptable indicates to me that they do not possess the intelligence to represent We the People in any governing or representative role.

    The Tea Party was formed shortly after Obama's inauguration. The wealthy Koch Brothers funded it. The reason there has been so much division since Obama took over the executive branch is because the wealthy of this country knew that Obama would do all in his power to wrest away the strangelhold that the wealthy has over our nation's govt. The first 2 years of his term have been the most vitrolic I remember in 40 years of voting because they are fighting him and the Democratic governing ideology that seeks to return liberty and freedom to millions of Americans. During the last election the GOP told more lies than I have EVER heard from any representative in any level of govt. If you tell a lie often enough, people believe it. And when the truth surfaces, they persist because to admit they were lied to would be too much to bear. It's how facism begins.

    January 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Keith

    "Dont think so, republicans are to blame for this one, clearly."

    The shooter had the communist manifesto as his favorite reading material. Also had a video favorited of a guy burning the flag. Also hated police officers. These are things that the GOP is not exactly known for.

    January 9, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. george wheeldon

    Everyone is trying to keep Sarah Palin, and the other people who use 2nd amendment rights, if they don't get their way, as not any part guilty of this shooting. All of this rhetoric from the "crazy rights" has also led to abortion doctors being killed, not by the ones saying what they are saying, but nuts who listen and follow through on the comments made. The "sayer" is just as guilty as the one who pulls the trigger!!! Accomplice is what they are and in some places an accomplice is held by the same standards as the actual pepratrator. So go ahead and protect the "NUTS" who have taken over the Republican party. One day they shall no longer welcome, I HOPE!

    January 9, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Jaynicia

    It's way too late to backtrack now, Tea Party. Six people, including an innocent child, have died. You can't unring the bell. Bob, I agree 100% with you.

    January 9, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. phil

    what's disgusting is that Sarah Palin's rehetoric of hate and violence and her lack of common sense and constant running of her mouth without thinking is responsible for this, period. The Senate should investiage her.

    January 9, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Kyle Michel Sullivan

    Didn't take long for the left to get blamed for this, too. Deficits - all the lefties' faults, and never mind they exploded under the GOP. 9/11 - all the lefties' faults, and never mind Bush 2 was president at the time. The financial collapse, all the lefties' faults, and never mind the collapse came at the end of Bush 2's term. Shooting of Rep. Giffords, all the lefties' faults, and never mind Sarah P' hit list or the hate spewed by the Tea Party Jihadists or the fear mongered by Rush and Sean and Bill and Ann and on and on and on...and pay no attention to that sick kid's anti-government rantings that sounded like one of Glenn Beck's sermons. You see? It's ALL the lefties' faults, while ee on the right are still lily pure and still lily white.

    January 9, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. Gjilan

    What is most troubling about Ms. Mansour's comments is the extent to which she goes trying to frame Ms. Palin and her campaign a victim and the extent to which she goes to spin the campaign ads. It wasn't a gunsight, it was surveyor's cross-hairs? Please. At a minimum her comments should pass the giggle test and these, given the context of this tragedy, don't even come close. Unless Ms. Palin was seeking to buy land in Arizona for a winter home, the meaning was clear and unambiguous - and no spin changes that fact. Ms. Mansour's comments are nothing more than a poor attempt at damage control and rationalization of what can only be described as a mean-spirited, inflamatory and irresponsible political aid that was totally unnecessary. How unfortunate that a 9 year girl had to die before we started coming to our senses. Clearly they are not to blame for the actions of a lunatic, but they are front and center to blame for the tone of debate that they have set.

    January 9, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. twiddly

    Yep, Sarah Palin and SARAHPAC have blood on their hands, along with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and all of FAUX NEWS.

    Can they be held responsible in a court of law? No, but that doesn't change their direct culpability.

    January 9, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. karen from charlottesville

    Sarah Palin needs to put her "man pants" on and accept accountabilitly for her words. Instead, she has her lackey Mansour attempting damage control while she and Todd sit home and pray.... that her political career isn't over.

    January 9, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Terry

    You know, I live in Canada but I also watch what is going on in the states. I notice that ever since Obama became president, a lot of people has gone bonkers in that country. This looks very bad, because here is a country(America) who wants to spread democracy around the world but yet the majority or should I say.... a certain demographic of people in that country cannot accept a black man as their president. The amount of racism towards black people and other ethnic minorities in the states is disgusting, and I a white male. Now you've got an idiot like Sarah Palin going around spreading nothing but hatred and violence, with a huge following and now look at the result. Now I'm not saying that it's her fault why the congress woman and others got shot but when you are a person with influence, with a huge following and not being the brightest, the people that follow you might take what you say to heart and do it wether or not you meant it. This is real serious people, you can't go back on what you said, saying you didn't mean this and you didn't mean that. I hope this serves as a wake up call for everyone. SARAH PALIN HAS BLOOD ON HER HAND!!!!!!!

    January 9, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. jenny

    People, stop it! This is the last drop you can put on Palin's back. Clear your brain,ask your heart and think before you against someone for this kind of crime. That guy has nothing to do with politics,he is mental ill. If you hate Palin,just ignore her and don't go to far with your hate.

    January 9, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Chavezzz

    This is some of the most absurd spin I've ever seen. Surveyor symbol? Do do you really think anyone buys that?
    Then to go on to say the gunman is a liberal but you don't blame liberals for the shooting is appalling.

    January 9, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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