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. mary

    If there is vitriol anyplace in politics it is on the left.

    that said–this seems to clearly be a kid with with big issues–and NOT a Left/Right thing.

    Totally disgusting that the left runs to blame so often.

    January 9, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Sean

    You do realize that cross hairs are almost exclusively associated with guns right? And that using a lot of incendiary language with violent metaphors can encourage unbalanced people to do vile things? Is this logic wasted on the Palin types, or are you willfully ignorant? Just present your ideas, have honest debates, and leave the gun-language out of it. Are we asking too much?

    January 9, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. Kevin

    Gosh, all of a sudden, the right-wingers are thinking "don't retreat–reload!" and stuff aout "second amendment remedies" for the path congress is on aren't such great rhetorical devices. Well, the smart ones don't. The idiots are defending this sort of stuff as not being inflammatory at all. Hilarious!

    January 9, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. charles

    Same people advocating for gun rights. it doesnt matter why did he had to own a gun in the first place. bithers, tea pathers for advocating for gun rights. At same time they continue to spread hate. Its not different from the middle east or arab countries where people are calling on death to others with different views. All open minded people should learn from this incidence. there is alot that has been talked in the last two years . The politicians are benefiting out of these not the common man. God bless this great country and all right minded people .

    January 9, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. jhl

    The First Amendment doesn't protect all speech. One can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater and expect First Amenedment protection. Hate speech isn't protected. Inciting riots isn't a protected form of speech. The crosshairs imaagery gets closer to the unprotected line and may have gone over, although courts bend over backwards not to get entangled in politics, the 2006 FL election fiasco notwithstanding.

    In this case, SARAHPAC needs to get its story together. Saying the crosshairs imagery was political speech directed at the November 2010 election is one thing: not taking it down until this unfortunate occurrence undermines that theroy. Mansour helf confirmed the imagery represented crosshairs until Bruces steered her to the idea that they were "surveyor symbol" not crosshairs. That's an surrealistict concept but crosshairs and gun sights go hand-in-hand which isn't the direction Palin wants to go unless she's shooting caribou.

    "Locked and loaded", "don't retreat, reload": those concepts are all going in the same direction and not the path of surveyor symbols.

    January 9, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Gee

    Typical Liberal hate speech....grow a brain please...crazy people do what crazy people do. To not say something or use a common "figure of speech" because you are afraid a crazy person might hear it and act on it literally is assinine....

    January 9, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Dick Bacon

    FOX News was careful to say that people shouldn't draw connections between the heated rhetoric of late and this shooting spree. This from the network that feeds off hate.

    January 9, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Robert Vukovic

    Palin's rhetoric and behavior during and since 2008 is the epitome of appalling. The Pima County Sheriff hit the nail on the head. There is no doubt a nexus between the hatred and bigotry spewing across the airwaves, or preached from the pulpits or displayed on signs at tea party rallies and the acts of violence perpetrated against the targets of neo-conservative intolerance.

    January 9, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. Daniel

    Many of us instinctively knew, and said so at the time, that the Sarah Pailn "crosshairs" ad went over the line and might encourage some nut to exercise his/her own personal "2nd Amendment Remedy". The fact that the shooter from yesterday wouldn't fit into any group is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether he is a Marxist, a Klansman, a neo-Nazi, or a Muslim.

    January 9, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Dennis from Millbrae

    Mansour (and Palin) say they do not "understand how anybody can be held responsible for somebody who is completely mentally unstable like this." When you use gun metaphors to promote your political rhetoric, like Palin and Angle have done, then they need to be held responsible. One way to hold them responsible is to vote against everything they stand for. The blood of all the victims of this political crime are on their hands and would be on their conscience–if they had one.

    January 9, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Indy

    What is appalling is this site ever existed and it is appalling that no criminal charges were brought forward the day this crosshairs page was on the internet. It is far too early to speculate on what made this nutball shoot and kill these people and no one should put direct blame on Palin. But we do know 100% for sure she did have Giffords in her crosshairs list and she was shot, and many others were killed. It is not appalling to become upset when you have someone who spews hate and lies and comes up with "Don't Retreat, Reload", "Death Panels" and the disscusting cross hairs list of 20. It is bound to come and bite you back when you make such a list with crosshairs and then there is a mass murder in the exact district. Palin had been asked many times by many people to take this page down but she thought it was funny which was appalling. Yes we can not blame Palin but don't expect people to forget that the exact person in Palins crosshairs was shot yesterday. Palin was told that this might cause something horrible to happen and she never did take the page down and that in itself is appalling

    January 9, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Len From Columbia

    This spinmeister, Rebecca Mansour, insults the intelligence of anyone reading her pathetic rationale/explanation for the "Take Back the 20" web posting. To try to say that the crosshairs were really 'surveyor symbols' is a ludicrous, shameless and untruthful way to deflect any responsibility from Sarah Palin. There were many criticisms at the time of the posting that "Take Back the 20" went too far and could possibly result in some unstable person to take the crosshairs literally. And what was Palin's response to those criticisms? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! She is in fact proud of her rogue image that encourages followers to 'RELOAD, Not Retreat' – words do indeed have consequences, even if they are supposedly just intended for her to get a quick soundbite to inflate her ego. She and the rightwing 24/7 media rabble rousers need to look long in their mirrors to clearly assess their contributions to the climate they have created.

    January 9, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Tony

    Good luck getting Pandora back in the box...

    Palin, DeMint, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and all the rest of the opportunists that purport to lead the Tea Baggers MUST share responsibility for this appalling act of violence. The Tea Baggers, for the most part, are a band of crazies and lunatics living on the fringe of society. You can't incite a riot with this crowd then ask "why are they throwing rocks?".

    The aforementioned should all be arrested as accomplices in this crime.

    January 9, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. EffortPA

    "We’re on Sarah Palin’s ‘targeted’ list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, we’re in the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action."

    – U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, March 25, 2010

    In a civilized society, you don't kill your enemies, you sue them. If it turns out that this idiot was somehow influenced by Sarah misguided innuendos, I sure hope somebody sues her for everything she's got. If he wasn't, then we'll just have to wait because it is just a matter of time before there is another idiot like him who actually believes what he watches on Fox News.

    January 9, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. x-rev

    It does not matter if he was a right winger or a left winger... he was anti government. Much of the talk from the tea party was just that. They did not side with republicans or democrates... they were just against the current government. When yo take someone who is mentally unbalaced, and feed him more and more anti government propoganda and then put a cross hair over candidates that you believe are anti government... it has consequences. Palin is just one person who needs to apologize for inciting this kind of behavior.

    January 9, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Ralph

    if Obama did this to republicans... Palin would have flipped... especially if this happened... I would just like to point out as well... Responsibility is a big thing, maybe Palin isn't grown up enough yet to take that she put something that should have never been put on any law abiding American citizen. But instead of apologizing she will deny it... a public apology won't change what happened, but it will send a clear message.

    January 9, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. John N Florida

    "Don't Retreat, RELOAD!"

    "Second Amendment remedies."

    January 9, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Mirror Time

    Through out the history of the US and the world, there has always been negative nasty political rhetoric thrown between parties. What I fear has changed, is that our children no longer have the ability to decipher between what is real and what is not. In general, we as a society have lost all civility and have desensitize our youth to the point where they have lost the ability to function on a moral level. Is this a random act of one unstable person or a wake up call that we need to pay closer attention to? How our children are dealing with the constant onslaught of media (all) messages thrown at them? Hopefully, in the days to come, some more light will be shed on this tradegey and what drove it. My heartfelt condolences goes out to the victims of this senseless tradegy, to Gabrielle Guiffords and the others that are struggling to recover, and to the family of Jared (who I'm sure are trying to make sense of this all and bare and different grief). Until then, instead of rushing to blame one party or another, I suggest as a nation we pray, have open and honest discussions with our children (including those that are young adults) about what happened in AZ this weekend, and take a long hard look in the mirror.

    January 9, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. John

    You don't think drawing targets on people... urging your followers to "reload" might inflame some of those to "take action..." as she urged them to???
    "Dupnik added, "People tend to pooh-pooh this business about the vitriol that inflames American public opinion by the people who make a living off of that. That may be free speech but it's not without consequences."

    January 9, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Fred

    Crosshairs on someone are crosshairs on someone are crosshairs on someone! Lest we forget another memorable quote from the half-governor, "don't retreat, RELOAD!!

    January 9, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. fralene

    Time Grows Short, Your statement is exactly the type of inflaming, contemptible, and utterly childish speech that does not belong in civil discourse. It offers nothing but hatred, it incites anger, and it solves nothing. In Sarah Palin's case, if she has any humanity whatsoever, she must be questioning her own past hateful statements of which there are many. She did not pull the trigger, but there is no doubt that she and others of her ilk have religiously cultivated anger and set people up to be targets. Words and actions have consequences. It is a shame when innocents have to pay the price.

    January 9, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Sanhita

    Palin said, "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." Well by that logic Osama Bin Ladin should not be held responsible for 9/11 as well. Palin and Jesse Kelley who talked about loading his M16s have blood on their hands today, the blood of an innocent 9 year old.

    January 9, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. chaostheoryman

    Hmmm. Did Hitler personally perform a majority of the Nazis' acts of atrocity? Did Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Osama Bin Laden personally shoot each of their victims? OF COURSE leaders and rabble-rowsers must be held accountable for their incendiary words and imagery. If leaders encourage their folk to get as angry as possible with violent imagery and metaphors, they cannot then deny responsibility when that uncontrollable anger results in literal use of those metaphors. If in utter sincerity and passion I tell you to kill someone, and you go out and kill someone, I am indeed partly responsible.
    If guns are not outlawed, not only will outlaws have guns, but so will unstable people, people having a bad day, people who are depressed, children, people with bad eyesight, people with bad gun skills, people with strong political fervor, people who drop things, people who bump into things, people who reach for what they thought was a broomstick. Guns are for one purpose only: to kill things. If it's the ability to defend yourself, well, there are a thousand other ways to do that that don't endanger ourselves or create an unstable society. And if you like to kill large breathing beings for fun, rather than for food, then perhaps that is a sign that you shouldn't have a gun.

    January 9, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Mary Lou

    Sarah Palin may not have pulled the trigger, but her hateful rhetoric and inspires violence especially those have mental problems who read her blogs. She targeted democratic senators and congressman for removal with crosshairs on a map of the United States.. Shame on her and the teaparty express.

    January 9, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Deb Bacon

    In criminal trials a prosecutor will often present evidence of a consciousness of guilt, such as hiding evidence, because it is considered under the law to be circumstantial evidence of guilt. Whether or not the shooter in this tragedy ever even heard of Sarah Palin, I think the fact that her web sites were scrubbed of the map with the cross-hair graphic shows what she and her staff really think about their own culpability.

    January 9, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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