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. mark ross

    Get your facts straight liberals, this has nothing to do with gun sites, sarah palin, republicans, the tea party, or any conservative. the guy was a left wing marxist democrat who was also gay and disgruntled with Giffords, he was never in the military as he was rejected, and was simply a far left nut. stop trying to pin something on someone or a group you do not like when its a guy from your side that did this for his reasons.

    January 9, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. John

    So, using the symbolism of cross-hairs to unseat Democrats who voted for health care is now considered just part of our normal Democratic process? There is a difference between saying you are targeting certain districts and going as far as showing actual cross-hairs on district maps and using the phrasing "you are in our sights". Palin and her representatives, such as Mansour, need to recognize their irresponsibility during the election and their role in creating the heated rhetoric that inspires lunatics like this gunman. The Palin camp should be ashamed. They didn't pull the trigger, but they certainly can't be held blameless in this case.

    January 9, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. johnRJ08

    I don't care what Palin's intentions were when she decided to use those gunsight graphics on her website. A responsible adult doesn't put stuff out there that might incite a lunatic to commit acts of violence. Palin and Michelle Bachmann have routinely used rhetoric which is associated with assassination and armed insurrection, as did Sharron Angle during her campaign. All of this is tied to the Big Lie that President Obama is a Kenyan socialist Muslim who is trying to destroy our Constitution. While the rhetoric and symbolism is designed to draw media attention and energize supporters, people need to understand that it also nurtures an atmosphere is fear, paranoia and hate. Those are all the ingredients you need for something like what happened yesterday in Tuscon.

    January 9, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Stephanie

    And what, pray tell, was ms palin trying to communicate with the gun sights post? I am not feeling the love.

    January 9, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Cross-hairs, don't retreat, reload should have never been tolerated in a political atmosphere when Palin spoke those words. Palin's political stunts may not have been a direct result of a 9 year old being killed as well as others being killed or serverly injured, but as Rep. Giffords herself said "her district was targeted in Palin's crosshairs". Palin is a sick person and should be counseled before she ever speaks in public again.

    January 9, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Karen Edmond

    Why aren't news reporters calling this what it is. An Assassination attempt on a US Congress Woman, per the racist discourse of; Sarah Palin, Beck, and other treasonous individuals looking to destroy this country with their tired and barbaric tetchiness.
    I hope the proper authorities take care of this problem quickly. Pray for peace, especially for that little girl murdered by these heathens.

    January 9, 2011 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Jim

    Violent words can and do incite violent acts. To deny any responsibility whatsoever is offensive to rational people who seek peaceful solutions to problems. When people fail to learn from their actions, they will not alter their behaviors. Whether extreme right or extreme left, the operative word is "extreme".

    January 9, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. kyle

    Putting someone in your crosshair may not seem violent to most people, but to a sick mind it means to eliminate someone with violence.

    January 9, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. SarahP

    We refudiate them ever being crosshairs, it was just a 'surveyors symbol'. Did ya know that the founding father, George Washington, was a surveyor too? You betcha. And those 'death panel' touchy feely thingys.....Rebecca really meant 'stealth flannels'.

    January 9, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. IKHAN

    We Americans have let forces of hate, racism, intolerance and now religious persecution, take hold in our social fabric & body politic.
    The vitriolic electioneering for mid-terms was nothing for us to be proud of. Unfortunately the same mind set has been elected to position of power by us.

    Unless we chose to stand up to these forces and get our act together the very spirit of democracy would be threatened.

    January 9, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. TXZag

    The crux of the matter is not what was intended by the violent metaphors Sarah Appalling chose during the campaigns, it is the manner in which those symbols were interpreted. And so it is with all of the vitriol being flung about these days; choose your words more judiciously, because they may motivate people in ways you didn't intend. There can be no excuse for the assassination attempt in Arizona that so far has claimed six lives. Be that as it may, the environment in which this took place is unhealthy and to argue that it had no impact is idiocy.

    People are sheep. You see it all of the time; people are incited to act irrationally by irrational, charismatic leaders. These blabbermouths on the radio and TV that have gotten themselves so lathered-up here of-late need to be taken to task for their irresponsible behavior.

    January 9, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. cbgb

    Putting that website up to start with is APPALLING!!!! If it has nothing to do with the shootings, why take the website down – guilty conscience, that's why. Sarah "crosshairs" Palin and Sharon "2nd amendment remedies" Agle ARE to blame. The website and the rhetoric aren't so cute now. "Man up" Sarah! "Man up" Sharon! Take the blame. You instigated it.

    January 9, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. pp

    This tragic madness is heartbreaking for the innocent victims, but also for our nation. I'm not saying that Palin was directly involved in this madness or even that it was her intent to promote something this heinous. However, she is never shy about using any kind of rhetoric she thinks will be effective in slamming anyone with an opinion opposing any of her half-baked ideas or plans. Not recognizing that her gun-site ads and "reload" comments could lead to violence just shows how stupid she really is! And have you noticed Bristol's job offer in Arizona? Obviously, the Palins have a strong base in Arizona – except for Megal McCain!!!!

    January 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. ah ha

    Let this be a lesson from Sara's fall, let nus all moderate a tad and we all should beleive in this great country to love thy naighbor and take all poitiics with a big grain of salt( that includes all the far right and left political comitators. Lets bring back the old FDC rule that all polititcal comitators have a fair counter point at the time of thier rants.

    January 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. carlos

    it was bound to happen, she started it all...and the mc cain guy also bears responsibility, you people draw your own conclussions.

    January 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. lin

    Too late,Sarah. You will now reap the hate you planted. If you have the ability to feel shame or guilt it should overwhelm you, I don't think you have sense enough to feel anything but arrogance.

    January 9, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Eber

    Sarah Palin and cia,(tea party) are the source of the tragedy in Arizona.

    January 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Margie

    Of course people don't hold Palin personally responsible. But her comments about gun sights guns etc help to set off people who, as we see in this case, who have personality problems. Look at Angle spouting off about second amendment rights. Look at the sign "we came unarmed this time". All this violent talk comes from right wing personalities. It is time it stopped

    There are opinions in this country that disagree with the republicans way of supporting corporations over the people of this country. They have a right to speak. In fact as long as you don't promote hate, violence and killing everyone has a right to speak. It is when you start to spew your hate and violence that steps should be taken to shut it down.

    And no matter how Fox tries to spin it, the calls for hate, violence and killing does come from the right.

    January 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Simon Petrie

    Whatever Palin's intentions were, the ill-conceived ad certainly brings her, Palin, into the conversation. If she wants to make a point, she shouldn't do it with firearm references because too many of her adherents can't differentiate between symbolism and marching orders. The feigned shock from her mouth-piece representative is what's appalling.

    January 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Tam

    There is a difference between a comparison such as they bring a knife, we bring a gun - that means that larger measures will be used. Not in a real way. But CROSSHAIRS (that you can't explain away), and reloading, well, that's too clear.

    January 9, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Robrob

    I highly doubt the mentally deranged shooter was influenced by any particular political affiliation. OTOH, the Palin camp's immediate backpedaling is telling. It's all fun and games to put cross-hairs on opponents and talk about "reloading" – until someone gets shot. Then the cross-hairs are suddenly "survey markers?"

    January 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Chris J

    Sarah Palin expects her words to gain her followers and voters. Her negative aggressive "don't retreat reload" slurs will gain followers just like her TP unity speeches. A graphic with a list of Democratics that need to be taken out with rifle bullseyes on their locations is inciting violent acts. It was irresponsible to release such a tool and cowardly to not accept responsibility for it. We don't know the full story yet behind this kids motivation and source of hate, but let this be a lesson to the SarahPac group that every word you speak has the potential for severe ramifications. Like my mom always said, "if you don't have anything nice to say, be quiet and go to your room and don't come out until I tell you to!" I hope Sarah's group is proud of themselves....shameful to think you have no influence on people except for positive ones. Quite the ego there.

    January 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Bruce H

    Give me a break! Palin was asked not to used this symbol ever since she put it up, and she refused to take it down. But like GW and the rest of the GOP, she can't take responsibility for her actions. As soon as something the GOP or Tea Party does has a bad result, they start whining about fingerpointing and "looking backward". Forward thinking people saw this coming and asked it to stop.

    January 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. GrogInOhio

    People defending Palin are being intentionally obtuse... as Palin often does herself. It's clear to sane people that it was a metaphor. It's the mentally unstable that may not see it that way and it is therefore irresponsible and incendiary at best.

    January 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Concerned citizen

    Does anyone not realize what is going on here?! If it's Palin's fault or not is not the issue. I hold no political affiliation, but this tug of war btw liberals and conservatives has to stop! Political figures using terms that clearly should not be used, making allusions to violence and inciting those who do not have the mental stability to filter anything.
    It's time for us to say ENOUGH!
    Or perhaps we should just brace ourselves for another Civil War..

    January 9, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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