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

    People such as Palin and Beck promote this kind of hatred. It is irresponsible and dangerous and should be addressed. I have said this for a long time, and it is now being addressed by the Tucson sheriff. He is absolutely right about our environment. Nobody is saying Palin "caused" this singlehandedly, but her remarks can trigger unbalanced people and evidently she just doesn't care or "get it." FOX should be taken off the air.

    January 9, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. American Pie

    A graphic of America with little guns all over the areas that Palin wanted the republicans to take back from the Democrats....hmmm....Why GUNS??? What does GUNS have to do with taking back a district??? Yes I do also blame Palin a little. You have to remember, the Tea Party is made of of A LOT of mentally challanged extremist. By putting little GUNS over places on a map she can send mixed messages. IT was brought to her attention when she first put it out that it might send mixed messages, and look what happened...it only takes common sense...which is something she noticably is lacking.

    January 9, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. zb

    Make no mistake that when a Republican Congressman calls the President a liar during the State of Union; when another one calls him the most corrupt president; when T-partiers shout down town hall meetings over healthcare; or FoxNew bullies fan the flames of ignorance; and Republican politicians exploit the extremism with their silence or words all of this helps set the tone to encourage nutcases to act out their lunacy.

    Make no mistake that regardless of the personal motives of the shooter the responsibility of this falls squarely on the politics of hate, exploitation, and ignorance of the Right. Words do matter. They do have meaning. The mindless use of metaphors have consequences.

    January 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. kneesus

    I think placing direct blame is impossible. But just the act of pulling their maps and slogans points to the fact if nothing else, politically they made a huge mistake. I highly doubt many campaigns in the future will feature this kind of rhetoric and that's a credit to the American people not being a group of savage animals.

    January 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. kgh

    Clearly Sarah Palin and her peers have inflamed the right wingers to the point where they think it is appropriate to use violence to make their point. Why on earth would the US legalize automatic weapons? Their sole purpose is to kill innocent people. And the GOP is right out front supporting them! What can't people disagree without being disagreable? Very sad indeed.

    January 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Canary

    To all histerical accusation out there. What's on the "Take back the 20" is a SURVEYOR's mark, not a CROSSHAIR's mark. It will be no different than any other signs. Remember each time you do something with a WORD document in Microsoft, and want to do some formatting, you will be directed to a 'bullet point'.

    January 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Dave

    Of course it was irresponsible of right wing fanatics like Palin to have something like that on their site. And come on, cross hairs and gun sights are the same damn thing, especially when you see old Sarah out shooting skeet on her joke of a reality show! They know exactly what they incited and now they are in deny everything mode.

    January 9, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. JW

    Most of you posting that Gov Palin and Republicans are somehow to blame for this are carely ignoring the political orientation of the person who actually pulled the trigger.

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Unenrolled in Massachusetts

    I think Rep. Giffords summed it up best in the MSNBC interview she did after the "targets" were posted on Palin's website. She said these actions have consequences, or something to that effect. You put a gunsight on people and there may very well be some unstable people out there that will carry out the deed. Sorry, Sarah but you've got blood on your hands and it ain't a caribou.

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. marty

    How heartbreaking. It may take the martyrdom on five adults and one very special small person, Christina, to bring civility back to this nation of ours.

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. PuppetRe

    Of course it us "appalling.". Sarah palin is appalling! There was some outcry when she posted the crosshairs on one of her sites early on, but the MSM chose not to do anything about it instead they have given this appalling woman a free pass.
    How in the world her handlers can just say this is nothing is pure stupidy. How SP got away with this for so long is mind boggling

    Sarah palin will pay big consequences for her actions and it can't come soon enough. She can't go on forever acting like this w/o paying some consequences.

    Palin and her ilk should all be put in jail, locked up and throw away the keys. America is better than this. The Palinites are un American! We do not want these people ruining our country anymore! Enough is enough! What good is she for our country.

    Enough of her hatred put upon the American people!

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. Marty, FL

    Thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Gifford, all families, and friends affected by this tragedy. One can only hope this situation gives everyone reason to take pause and responsibility for our actions going forward.

    America does not need misguided politicians promoting unnecessary violence no matter how unintentional, placing any more irresponsible crosshairs on maps, nor the demagogues on TV, radio, and the Internet pushing wild conspiracy theories about gold or other such nonsense that can have adverse effects, instead of promoting positive efforts.

    Our choice of words truly matters for one another. Please think about it.

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. MikeMazzla

    When a public figure uses terms such as lock and re load...and a map with gun sights on it...you better take esponsibility for that. .and the congresswoman herself complained about this back in march as it being innappropriate. And it just so happened to be taken down right at this time.....righttttttttttttttt.

    January 9, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. EddyL

    OH YES.... Typical Republican, Palin is of course NOT RESPONSIBLE for her endless rhetoric of hate and violence. She shoots her dumb mouth off at every occasion but then when so loony acts on her hate speech (RELOAD) she has no responsibility.

    Targeting Dems with images of rifle cross hairs? But of course she's not RESPONSIBLE for the message she sends out.

    HATE AND VIOLENCE are what Palin spews. She shares responsibility for this tragedy.

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. bobby

    clearly Palin didnt intend to recommend such action but language and analogies like that issued not only by her but others such as Limbaugh, Beck etc etc do not add to rational and respectful discussion in fact they may give a distorted rational to these actions performed by deranged individuals. Everyone should just back off and start acting like rational adults not people who just utter these inane comments to boost ratings or for the political sound bites they seek

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. JM in Seattle

    Palin loaded the gun, aimed it, then sat back waiting for one of her minion to pull the trigger. Palin is culpable in these murders.

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Ryder

    I'm glad the spokesman clarified that the websight graphic was never intended to imply gunsights, only crosshairs, which as everyone knows are only "surveying symbols." Apparently, hunting rifles are equiped with surveying instruments mounted on top.

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Roscoe

    The over the top comments about targetting, reloading, and 2nd amendment remedies do not cause normal people to go out and commit these hordid crimes but those comments CAN cause people with problems to do them. Yes, people who make these reckless comments are responsible to some degree. Those people, their representatives, can deny responsibilities but in their hearts and minds, they know they have helped it happen. To live with this guilt should be unbearable. They should apologize to all Americans and pray that God will have mercy on them.

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. acura2010

    When rhetoric of hate is spewed 24/7 nonstop on the internet, airwaves, radio by political figures and adults who are paid millions of dollars, you are inciting a riot! Sarah Palin earns her living off the backs of ignorant bigots dividing this country.

    January 9, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. merfan

    Pulling the "Take back 20" link on the Palin site was supposed be pulled in November and they just happen to remember that yesterday? What a coincidence.

    Her “shooting” references are exactly what the Tucson sheriff is talking about. It’s time for conservative politicians to speak out about this type of trash on right wing radio.

    January 9, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Tracey

    Maybe we should all try to stand united as Americans. There is room for spirited debate among us all. Unfortunately, there are deranged individuals who for whatever reason, disconnect from reality. Right winged, left winged, crazy people affliate with any cause that fuels their lunacy. Palin, however should not have had "sights" on her webpage. I am not blaming her, but we all have to think and realize there are many crazy people out there. Who knows what motivated this person? Only he knows and I doubt we will ever fully understand what prompted him, it is between his ears whatever it is..

    January 9, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Jim

    Survey symbol? You've got to be kidding me! They'd be much better off simply admitting it was a poor choice of graphics and vowing to not let it happen again.

    January 9, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Cyrious

    The problem with people this day and age is that they take everything too literally and out of context. Imagine if the shooter was african american, hispanic, asian, or middle eastern?. Just think of the out cry and panic that would ensue.from both sides of the political spectrum. And still people would start playing the blame game on speculation and rhetoric. This is just another tragic event that the media loves to overexpose..

    January 9, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Green Tara

    Please look up the definition of the word "sedition", because Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, John Boehner, and the rest of the Republican, religious-fanatic lunatic-fringe are all guilty of it. They have the blood of a 9-year-old child on their hands. They are all terrorists.

    January 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. wanda

    Blaming everyone other than the shooter has long been a standard in politics. Look back to the Columbine shooting. It was music. It was movies. It was video games. It wasn't the kids that actually pulled the trigger. Why is it so disgusting that Palin is getting heat over this? It isn't. The gunman is clearly the only person responsible for this tragedy, but that doesn't mean Palin shouldn't be thinking about her role in it. Those were crosshairs in that graphic. Any idiot can see that. Don't retreat, reload. There is nothing about that statement that can be seen as anything other than an incitement to violence.

    I almost never agree with Michael Moore. I don't think he's really any better than most of the politicians he goes after. He did raise a good point: Imagine a Muslim posting a graphic like that on a website (even without any direct words inciting violence) before a tragedy like this took place. What do you think would happen to that individual? Would they be arrested and interrogated? Would the authorities look for any way to tie that individual to the crime? You betcha!

    January 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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