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

    Yes, public speech has consequences. Crosshairs are gunsights. Their mealy-mouth stammering about surveyor's symbols is damning. Mansour as the spokesperson for the Palin outfit affirms that they all are completely illiterate and disingenuous.

    January 9, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Haskell Nixon

    Do you smell a cover up? more right wing lies.

    January 9, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Debbie from Arizona

    The problem is that even though I believe Sarah Palin really didn't intend that someone put a gun to the head of our representative Gabrielle Giffords, that is what happened. There are a lot of people out there suffering from mental instability and they take rhetoric like Don't Retreat, Reload and use the Second Amendment Solution to heart. The result is the tragedy we are experiencing here in Arizona. Gabby is my Congresswoman and thank God she is alive and the doctors are opptomistic about here survival and recovery. I don't hold Palin personally responsible for this, but I do feel she along with others who have used this hateful and violent rhetoric partly to blame for this horrible event and unless it stops now, it could very well happen again.

    January 9, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. lina

    Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'reilly, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin...the venom from your mouths has once again turned to become the blood on your hands

    January 9, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. awi

    The victims and their families should sue the smirk off of Palin.

    January 9, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Mkelley

    I refuse, REFUSE to consider Sarah Palin a victim in this tragedy! Even if her intent was not to incite violence, her rhetoric led to so much more than mere words. They helped contribute to a mind-set that allows this kind of disregard for life. We all need to stop, take a breath, and decide how we are going to move forward as a country and as human beings. Political disagreement is fine, and even necessary, but we have gone too far in our name calling and the various "call-to-arms" that have been labeled as merely "exciting the base". Who are we, and where do we want to go?

    January 9, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. angela

    i fell sorry for the family that lost loveones yestday in the shotings.

    January 9, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. Sherry Hutchins

    The sheriff in Pima County, Arizona made a wise statement when he said that the political rhetoric that has been going on incites hatred and violence. The very idea that someone who has the following that Sarah Palin has thinks it is fine to use cross hairs of a gun sight over top of congressional districts, says things like "don't retreat, reload" has the very effect of willfully inciting violence against others.

    I personally thank the sheriff for making a statement that has been televised to the country that I have been wanting to make for quite some time. My prayers are with those who were injured and those who lost loved ones.

    Concerned citizen

    January 9, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. MD Dude

    With over 310 million people in her borders, the US is loaded with more than just a few nut cases. That being the case, it was just a matter of time before something like this happened in the course of the out of control political rhetoric of late. Whether intentional or not, Mrs. Palin has an accountabillity for her actions and words she uses to "rally her troops", including those of unstable character. Her apology yesterday is of little comfort to the families of the 6 that lost their lives, and quite honestly it rings hollow and to me seems to be more along the lines of covering her ass than being truly remorseful. She has taken the road of saying anything to make money off the backs of the disaffected...and now at a terrible price. So....what's next?

    January 9, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. TM

    "Don't retreat, just reload" – Sarah Palin
    So it's either:
    She said it. She MEANT it. She should be held accountable for it.
    OR
    She was being an brainless, ignorant, rabble rouser and has no place in and rational discussion, and should be ignored from this point on.

    January 9, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Cigar Smoker

    "People actually accuse Gov. Palin of this. It's appalling. Appalling. I cannot even express how disgusting that is."

    Well, if the shoe fits! Oh, and it's "Ex Gov." or "Former Gov." Remember she quit.

    January 9, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Bill in war-torn AZ

    Way to go, Palin handlers. Your damage control needs its own damage control.

    Don't retreat! Reload those "surveyor symbols".

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

    Cross hairs or gun sights. Either/or usually means aim. Gun, bow & arrow, bomb target, it's all the same. It's just like shooting caribou, isn't it?

    January 9, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. sanantoniopedro

    IThese individuals that died were at the hands of a self titled "terrorist". Politicians from both sides have helped in creating a hostile environment. Our forefathers must be ashamed of how far we have fallen. I pray that the deaths of these individuals will not be quickly forgotten. Americans, we are better than this. We can agree to disagree, but violence should never be used to prove your point. When I think of the youngest victim, it reminds me of my young sons. She went to this meeting to learn more about our political process. What happened to her has nothing to do with our political process.

    January 9, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Rafael

    It's no secret that Palin loves guns and hates Democrats. It's quite obvious that her subliminal message was heard and acted upon. Palin might not be as stupid as we were led to believe.

    January 9, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Looseparts

    Perhaps you should consider removing the word "targeting" from your vernacular...

    January 9, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Connie

    What is appalling RAM is that Palin and her minions thought the use of the crosshair targets on the map was fine and the only reason it was taken down was because one of those in the crosshairs was shot. Palin's tweets referencing the "bullseyes" (PALIN'S USE OF WORD) and reloading are what is appalling. Perhaps Palin and her minions need to "pause before they play".

    January 9, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. tony

    Both Palin and her aide need to acknowledge their reckless, apologize for and not excuse bad politics and inflammatory language with 'everyone does it'. A childish response that glaringly shows their lack of understanding, accountability and intellect.

    January 9, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Take America Back to the Bush Error?

    'Reload' and '2nd amendment remedies' have nothing to do with guns?

    January 9, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. NameJulie

    I will definitely vote for Palin now, if citizens don't have the right to have guns then only the bad guys will have them.

    January 9, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. Mark_PA

    That Sarah Palin is a contributer to the hatred and violence is an accurate observation.
    Beyond the campaign, Palin has continued to use incendiary language and rhetoric including phrases like "Don't retreat, Reload!"
    No amount of back-peddling can erase the fact that this woman and her contemporaries have contributed so much to the animosity and rage that is driving the right wing zealots and "Patriots" to commit and threat to commit acts of violence.

    January 9, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. Michele

    Fighting rhetoric has been around in politics from the beginning. However, putting actual targets on specific individuals is a whole 'nother type of irresponsible. I don't believe Palin intended for this to happen, but intent is hardly the issue. I am so sick of hearing ‘this was the act of a lone crazy person’ as justification to say whatever you want while accepting no responsibility for it. Of course it was the act of a lone crazy person. That’s exactly the point. The reason responsible citizens don’t engage in hate-baiting is because there are plenty of lone crazy people in this country and they have easy access to guns. Far from exonerating us for the consequences of our speech, those realities should make us more aware of what we say and how it might be taken.

    The only way this sort of vile, irresponsible speech will stop is if we all agree, including the stenographers in the media, to not engage in it ourselves and to marginalize those who do participate in it—right, left, independent, whatever. So far that hasn’t happened and commentary about this event on this forum, including the defensiveness and 'they did it too' excuse (that is more appropriate for grade schoolers than adults), indicates that not even six deaths are enough to get people to recognize that speech has consequences.

    January 9, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Dianne, IL

    This tragic incident may not be politically motivated. If it is, I would not directly blame Palin or the other loud-mouthed, attention-seeking idiots for this sick person's actions. But their constant violent, gun-themed rhetoric has certainly stirred up hateful feelings. They feed the negative discourse in this country. Palin and her like do not deserve the attention or money they receive for being ignorant and self-serving. True leaders stand up for the greater good of all and speak out against lies and evil.

    January 9, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. no one's homeboy

    Although the intent of the Palin graphic was not to LITERALLY put someone in the CROSSHAIRS of a REAL WEAPON, to those who are unstable or weak-minded (referring to those who do not think for themselves) may have taken it upon themselves to to do what they believe to be a moral mandate in a belief they can make a difference...

    When organizations use combative terms like RELOAD, TAKE BACK and TAKE A STAND there is a strong possibility that someone would use a 2nd AMENDMENT REMEDY to right a contrived wrong.

    The internet is how most of us receive our news. It is far from self-controlled, so it can under the first amdndment yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater with no fear of prosecution or reprisal.

    We need to start showing some decency...Did it have to come to this tragedy for anyone, like our political forums to begin now?

    January 9, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. nancy

    This is a sad time for our country. We have to be more mindful of the content that is included in websites, so not to hurt or offend others.

    January 9, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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