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. barbarian_horde

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Palin's use of violent rhetoric, all done with a tasteful wink dontcha know, was certainly effective. The Tea Party whipped up anger and fear amongst its nutty members, and this is what happened. It isn't coincidence that a far-right government-fearing nutcase blazed away at a Democrat in a public forum. A Tea Partier tried to literally take out a Democrat. That was where the cross-hairs settled, and the Tea Party owns it.

    January 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. mercfan

    It's not difficult to see this was bound to happen. The hatred against the government has been progressing over the last 2 years. Starting with all the hatred spewing on right wing radio, the crybabies having tantrums at the town hall meetings, the offices attacked after the health care bill was passed. Unfortunately, a political assignation was the next level for the hatred to progress to.

    If you don’t like the direction the country is going, then you vote out the people taking there. That’s what happened in November – majority rules.

    For some reason these people TP idiots can’t wait for the majority to speak, they have to take things into their own hands.

    Maybe this will wake up the majority because if this continues, the next level for the hatred to progress to will be a large group of TP idiots attacking the capitol to bring down the entire government. And they call themselves patriots? They don’t want a new revolution, they want a new civil war. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP.

    January 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. a in austin

    For SP staffers to say "everybody does it", no they don't. She was the first to start spouting nonsense, saw what kind of bank she could make, and continued the hateful words. When other Republicans were asked about the hateful rhetoric, they laughed and shrugged it off. Rush? Hannity? Faux news? Just as guilty....making $$ off the stupidity of others and laughing all the way to the bank.

    January 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. Lynn

    I think Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck all have a hand in inciting violence with their venom and nasty commentary. Rush and Glen get paid for it which makes it all the more sickening. Sarah Palin on the other hand is just a complete idiot. Sarah Palin and her tea partiers should never have had an advertisement on TV or websites featuring gun sights over political districts. Take a person with mental problems and let them listen to Sarah, Rush and Glen for a while and things like this could happen. The nasty commentary of Rush, Glen and Sarah needs to stop right here.

    January 9, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Nevada Willis

    My mother worked for General Eisenhower in Germany immediately following WW-II and during the Nuremberg Trials. One of the puzzles was how one person could incite otherwise rational people to engage in such heinous atrocities. During the depression people were desperate and it was easy to incite anger and focus it, in this instance toward Jews, Slavs and other non-Aryans. Once the hate dialogue became acceptable, then despicable acts perpetrated by less than stable individuals followed bringing such atrocities as Kristallnacht.

    While I don't believe that it is fair to single out Sarah Palin in this tragedy, it certainly illustrates where things can lead when politics become overtly confrontational and dramatic. There are individuals who will take symbolism (e.g., politicians in rifle scope crosshairs) literally and we don't need history to repeat itself. When people become public figures – and this applies to everyone – they take on certain responsibilities that extend beyond political agendas. Let's learn from this event, not repeat it.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. dwayne

    Remember Republicans holding signs up for tea party on porch of US Capital Building. That footage looks bad now.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. gelisa

    "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." Here in this statement lies the problem. The process shouldn't work like that. Canidates should be more focused on telling us what they can do to improve this country and their ideas and achievements instead of targeting other candidates with smear campaigns and rhetoric. I for one am tired of it and I thought we the people had sent this message in November. Business as usual in Washington isn't working. Hopefully this will inspire a climate of change. Its time to stop pointing fingers and just end it now. Its a shame such a tragedy had to occur for people in Washington to realize this.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Dave

    Don't worry, Republican voters. Sarah Palin is not responsible for this. You are. For making hate speech powerful and hate speakers influential.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Too much

    Sarah Palin did not pull the trigger. It was a crazed psycho ticking timebomb. However, she has contributed greatly to the current hostile political environment. Even after this tragedy, including a nine-year-old innocent victim, there are hundreds of posts all over the internet where people are viciously verbally attacking "libtards" "socialists" "terrorist in chief" "rethuglicans". Those that you attack most likely hold viewpoints similar to someone you know and love. I have people that are dear to me on both sides of the political spectrum. If one can't see that there are good people with morals on both sides of the aisle, then that person has some serious problems. Think before you speak.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. More thinking less ignorance

    We don't know whether Sarah Palin type rhetoric motivated the shoorter, but what this incident does is it underscores how inappropriate the political rhetoric has become. The croshairs issue isn't even the most dispicable thing she said, remember "republicans don't retreat, we reload". Making comments like that in the current political climate is in bad taste. This incident underscores that.

    January 9, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. Leviathan

    A surveyor's symbol?

    Here's the tweet from 11/4 on SarahPalinUSA:
    Remember months ago "bullseye" icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacarelovin' incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate; T'aint bad)

    January 9, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. FedUp

    P.S Re-read Monsour comments, and she actually has the gall to say "reading our tweets....actually blaming Palin....
    IT IS SO SAD?" "Surveyor's symbols"? "Should have been taken down,...thought it was down", shooter a 'liberal"...
    Wow, this woman's defense is abhorrent and absolutely filled with guilt. Thanks for the insight as to what she
    thinks is "sad– the families of the victims will certainly be comforted.

    January 9, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. Ramesh Shrestha

    Even my simple mind thinks that Sarah Palin's divisive and polarizing rhetoric has contributed to yesterday's massacre.

    January 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Ben Ben

    Palin posted that map with this woman as one of the targets and this Congresswoman even stated that map could lead to this so I blame Palin. This is what you get America when you give nut cases like Palin a voice.

    January 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. lilybee

    Sarah Palin's attempt to distance herself from her role in this violence just goes to show that she is a coward in addition to being the vapid reality personality that she is. Her rhetoric can certainly be perceived to condone violence ("don't retreat,reload") and any other extreme measures that will help launch her into the spotlight. Sadly, this tragic event - the deaths of a child, a well respected public servant, and many others - was the inevitable next step in the political process that Palin and others like her have been spewing.

    January 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Somewhere in the middle

    Yeah, they are surveyer markers, yeah...I mean, yeah, we were taking a survey of who should be voted out of office....I mean, we hate poles, we do surveys instead. You betcha!

    If you are dumb enough to believe that, I'd like you to send some more money to SARAPAC. Sarah, do the people you have entrusted to work for you actually believe their BS? Why can't they just admit they were wrong about this ad campaign?

    January 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Mickey, NY

    One good thing comes of this tragedy: SARAH PALIN IS HISTORY. If you don"t speak out against the hatred and bigotry, you are as much a part of it as those saying and/or dioing it,

    This is certainly NOT within your Fiirst Amendment rights...any Kindergartener knows you can't say anything you want, without consequences.

    The Republican Party as well as the "Tea Party" have blood on their hands. They will now suffer the consequences.

    January 9, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. pw

    @bob amen to that

    January 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Julest

    So very sad. But this is not a shock, when irresponsible people as the Tea Party spew hatred and diisdain, and promote it, imbalanced people feed off of it, and yes some act on it. Maybe now, all of our politicians will act as adults should, with respectful dialogue and without disdain and nastiness.

    January 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. What in the world

    My condolences to everyone affected. Our country has lost all moral right. We need to focus on gun laws and the mentally ill. EX-governor Palin should know better than to incite violence but what did we think would happen? If words are causing this much pain in the world than we all need to wake up. EX-governor isnt the problem only part of the solution. Maybe this will wake the world up that re-locking and re-loading is just plain stupid if the wrong people are using guns for the wrong reasons. Government red or blue should focus on mental issues or this will continue

    January 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. blameitonpalin

    The sole purpose of guns, the reason guns were created, are manufactured and sold, is for killing. The fact that Palin, a political figure, flaunts guns, killing and thinks it is all so cute and smart to sell her political position using them is disgusting. So yeah, I blame her and her creepy hatred spewing ilk, i.e. limbaugh, beck, fox, for the mass and senseless killing that occurred yesterday. Further the fact that they defend their actions, speak words of obvious insincere sorrow for the victims, and deny any possible connection, is a sign they have no conscience.

    January 9, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. jean

    Palin herself has put herself in the position of blame with all the incendiary statements she has made in the past. Making references to putting people in the "cross hairs", "reloading" and not disagreeing with her followers when they screamed "kill him" during the campaign. She has also kept herself in the forefront politcally since hardly a day goes by that she isn't in the news . She clearly whips up a crowd when she speaks. There are others who have also spoken out indicating violence was not out of the question, referring to their second amendment "rights" etc. . However Sarah is the most visable. All this hate talk is bound to bring the wackos with guns out eventually and so it has. It was just a matter of time.

    January 9, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. P

    Sarah Palin and her racist red neck Tea Party friends are responsible for this. The hatred that she and those oher nut cases spread was bound to lead to violence.

    January 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Clark Wilhelm Griswald

    Chumming hate and denying responsibility for anything that goes wrong – Ah Sarah, you truly are a Real American!

    January 9, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. David

    The Palins and her entire team who thought of this cross hairs ad are sitting in the pool of blood. They are desperately trying to blame the crazed nut. This kid is just a lonely kid who was influenced by them cable news does it again FOX/ media/ internet. Senator Lamar is blaming Candy crowley? How hilarious but not the insightful language of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Andrew Breibart. This country had better take it back from these wingnuts or we will be hearing this again and again. The computer will tell it all. Why was he visiting her in 2007? is this kid a political junkie??

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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