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. DAW, NC

    Of course she will deny a connection to her hate and anger comments. She is just stirring the pot for her own political gain within thinking of the possible consequences, oh excuse my I was assuming that she could think. my mistake

    January 9, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Alex

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

    What's disgusting is that an "Aim at these 20" website was ever allowed to be publicized in the first place. You either have to be an absolute idiot to not think that someone could take that kind of message as a call to violence; Or, you just don't care if anyone who doesn't conform to your facist ideology gets hurt. Well, Sarah and her groomers prove to be both.

    January 9, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Cat

    Call it what you will. Palin is to BLAME for this. She put out targets on these people, She promotes violence and hate. So she is to blame. Palin is just as guilty and the guy who pulled the trigger. She is a terrorist and should be arrested. Gulity gulity. Palin is promoting the shooting of political opponents.

    January 9, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. windrider2

    It's not appalling. It's holding Palin for the consequences of HER ACTIONS. She put this woman in the cross hairs of a gunsight. She used inflammatory violent rhetoric against her. Words have consequences. Palin is one of the primary contributors to political rhetoric based on violent threats: lock and load, don't retreat reload, water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants, second amendment remedies. The threats come from the right. The armed protesters at political rallies and Presidental appearances are from the right. And they are Palin followers. Followers at her rallies called for the killing of Obama before he was even elected.

    If she is going to use the language of gun violence to rally her political followers, then she bears responsibility for helping to create a climate in which political assassinations are attempted. We reap what we sow, and Palin sows the seeds of violent rhetoric with violent imagery. When violence happens, especially to someone that she personally targeted, she damned well is morally responsible for the climate that made it possible, though she has no legal culpability.

    January 9, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. Chuck Anaheim, Ca.

    Really? You don't think the ads and vitriol she spewed BEFORE the health care reform vote and last falls election did not have anything to do with this kind of action? You people are very deranged in your thinking. I think the idea of having cross-hairs on certain congressional districts gave many sick and psychotic people ideas, how many more will act out on your silly suggestions?

    January 9, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Consequences

    Worda and actions have consequences. Palin and the tea partiers have been using rhetoric to incite violence since the 2008 presidential election. So said that something like this had to happen before people finally decided to get serious at taking them up on the words they were using. The crosshairs on her website was way over the line.

    January 9, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Jim

    In these difficult times what we need the most is civil discourse of the most pressing problems that our nation and society faces. We need a two party system with stateswomen and statesmen like Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower and others. Sarah Palin may not have pulled the trigger in Arizona yesterday, but can anyone seriously argue that she has not greatly contributed to the level of 'uncivil' discourse that exists at the national level today. Moreover, can anyone name one constructive suggestion that she made to solve the issues that we face as a nation?

    January 9, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. curtther

    I have never herd so much vitriol in all my life come from the right. Remember bret bier's angry interview with our president? Look at. all the insane things our republican elected official say daily. They had to know this was going to happen. Now let's hope eric cantor and his crew don't come up with some fake shootings like last time. now they will have to answer to all the lies they tolerated From fox news and even worst they have the blood of a 9 year old child on their greedy shameful hands, forever just to win back power.

    January 9, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. jeff george

    "Time Grows Short" says ridiculously that Obama has incited violence. HOW has he done that? Absolutely absurd and baseless. Meanwhile, the far right has continually used violent rhetoric, with guns figuring prominently. Angle and her "second amendment remedies" was the worst. Palin and her "reloading" and her gunsights with people's names attached. Rick Perry in Texas. Time Grows, when did Obama EVER say anything about guns and knives? Don't you guys ever tell the truth?

    January 9, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. gina

    This is the fault of a lone schizophrenic man with delusions. But uh, calling Obama a terrorist? Looks like someone else is suffering from a schizophrenic break with reality.

    January 9, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Mega Dittos

    The same people who blame Palin for the shooting supported that movie depicting the assassination of George Bush. Can you say "hypocrites?"

    January 9, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Kathryn McHenry

    Palin and her ilk have been warned that their inflamatory rhetoric and metaphors might result in something like this but they chose not to listen. Now they(and we) must live with the consequences.

    January 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Big Dave

    The Palin camp is lying, anyway (what a surprise). Palin sent out a tweet of "reload" a couple of days after the "target" web page went up.

    January 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. Bobo

    It just happened to be coincidentally taken down right after this incident? Yeah, sure. Hey, how're you doing selling that bridge. Sadly, it is exactly the sort of violent imagery used by Sarah Failin that can push these nutjobs over the edge. No, she didn't pull the trigger, or order a hit, but she did contribute to the situation by using the imagery she chose. How would she feel if there was a poster with her picture in "Surveyors crosshairs" with the caption "it's time to put down a wild beast. Let's GUN for a Mama Grizzly!".? Not to good I'm guessing. But hey, they're only words, and those aren't gunsights, only "surveyor's crosshairs"...

    January 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Conservative

    C'mon people! You want to tone down the rhetoric – let's start right now with these ridiculous accusations.

    January 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Ronnie

    I do blame Palin and now Rebecca Mansour ! I hope even the moronic republican party will distance themselves from Palin and the terrorist group known as the tea party !

    January 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. April

    If she doesn't think what she wrote was wrong, why remove it from her website. If she's so proud? Doesn't make sense. Just leave it there. Point is, a normal person wouldn't take what she said and pull a gun and start shooting, but there are lots of whack jobs out there and responsible people take that to account when they are public figures. Sarah Palin isn't a responsible public figure....I hope that's obvious to more people after this episode.

    January 9, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Dee

    Palin needs to take responsibility for her actions. She abhors people making jokes about the mentally challenged, and rightfully so. Why is this? Because words hurt– words are intentions and intentions hold power with consequences.

    She shows indiscriminate and deadly violence against an animal on TV (please don't tell me she needed the meat– no one needs meat and certainly not the rich), she uses violent terms against those who think differently, and then she wonders why we hold her to account.

    January 9, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Conservative

    Having read more of the comments on this blog – it's clear to me that no one on the left wants to tone down the rhetoric. BTW – the congresswoman was blue dog democrat – so who would wish her harm?? The right?

    January 9, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. malabar

    so basically, libs cudnt care less 4 victims, all about Palin. that young lady who knew him and said he was liberal shud be prepared for the hatred and attacks the left will aim at her. and still, no proof of any link to the right or Palin. waiting

    January 9, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Eagleville

    "crosshairs...surveyors..." – baloney!
    The crosshair graphic is most widely associated with gunsights and that's how they are understood. In addition, the Palin twitter posting ends with the phrase, "'Don't Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!' – clearly the implication is to target Congresswoman Giffords and others with a gunsight.

    January 9, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Name tired of the haters

    Like you couldn't see this coming months ago. The far right tea party folks continue to show their ignorance by supporting unqualified people just because they spew hate. Bachman Palin Angle etc.

    January 9, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Carl

    All right-wing conservative, tea bagger commentators who have used this outlandish hostile rehtoric have "blood on their hands". Tone it down! People are becoming uncivilized!

    January 9, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Chris McCoy

    What is appalling is that ANY politician at ANY time would put gun targets over people's faces. What is appalling is that they would then try to attack others when their message had its intended result. What is appalling is that so many people follow a barely literate, vindictive, talking head that harbors so much hatred.

    January 9, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. mark Hohn

    I blame the left wing hate groups for this. From the president saying . From Obama saying "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun". to a posting on the daily Kos saying saying congress woman Gifford was dead to them after she didn't vote for Pelosi for speaker of the house.

    January 9, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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