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. BMS

    So "don't retreat – reload" is surveyor talk? Whaddaya know.

    They have blood on their hands. That's why they took it down. They know.

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Chuck in Alaska

    It is not appalling to use this incident as a means to condemn ALL the politicians and politicians' aides and radio hosts and TV anchors that have turned up the partisan rhetoric to such a high degree in the last 10 years or so. There are consequences to the inflammatory tweets and facebook digs that we are subjected to every day, and the divisive snarking on cable TV.

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. sammy

    there is a lot of what ifs and should haves...but really. the gunman is to blame...maybe he got the fuel from everything thats been going on. There really is no end or no beginning, no use in blaiming anybody.

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. I've had enough

    The first time Palin said, " don't retreat, reload." and I saw the crosshairs on the map, I knew there would be trouble.
    Her incendiary retoric and stirring up her base is indeed partly responscible for this act of violence. You can pan
    so many Tea Party events and see vastly bellied people lofty a rifle with a sign that say's, " Don't take my gun away."
    I am appalled at the stupidiy of her base.

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. 15 minutes are over

    A certain German dictator didn't personally kill millions of innocent people and Bin Ladin didn't pilot any of the 9/11 aircraft, but should we absolve them of their participation in the horrific events that resulted from their megolomaniacal, hate-laden, call-to-action speehes to their followers?

    January 9, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. Sir Craig

    While Palin may not have actually fired the shot, she helped forge the environment that made something like this inevitable. The crosshairs, frequent use of her phrase "Don't retreat – reload!" all serve to create a tone that is violent in nature and appealing to the less stable in our society. She may have cashed in on her image of a rough and tough "mama bear," but she and the rest of those who used this language and imagery need to understand they are responsible for the consequences.

    If there are those who, as the sheriff said, try to "pooh pooh" this explanation (especially the purveyors of said vitriolic garbage), then I don't want to hear from these same people anything about how video games are making the youth in America more violent, or how a curse word or a breast shown on television is somehow responsible for the alleged corruption of our culture, because this is no different.

    January 9, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. paganchick

    while no one is responsible for the shootings except the gunman, i think we can all agree that saying things like "don't retreat; reload!" and putting target crosshairs over the names and locations of those you disagree with is tasteless and unwise. i don't blame sarah palin for the shootings, but i also think she should have expected that others would, after language and actions like those. if she doesn't want to be associated with a violent individual, she should stop using such violent language and imagery.

    January 9, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. ron

    i just totld someone the other day that when the rep take office that there will b more viole nt n this country then ever hve been due 2 there negative outbursts and influence of hatred..this is like the 911, everybody sorry now, but when it died down the violent will continue..watch the media loves to carry negative sayin and killin 2 give someone a chance to copycat it...More to become because of so much negative and evil instead of unity..Cry now but paid lata..

    January 9, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. armass

    The whole point of Palin's rhetoric is to encourage and use anger. She wants her image to be aggresive, that is why she wants as many photo ops as possible with guns. She would have to be a complete moron not to realize that there are many unstable people in this country. For her people to now try to deny that she is not a part of the overheated political rhetoric of the last few years is a joke.

    January 9, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Nellie

    Also, if the map was so inconsequential, then why take it down even now?

    January 9, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. No More Haters

    Sarah Palin is our country's official death knell. Drill, baby, drill, and we get our most destructive environmental disaster. Cross-hairs on elected Democrats, and we get a gun assassin. Aerial wolf family slaughters, ignorance, childish tantrums. Please, media, stop covering her. She's sickening and is harming America. She keeps shouting that 'we're gonna take our country back,' but this country is all of ours. Sarah, learn to get along. We're not infants grabbing toys from each other on a playmat. Get in a car and take a drive around this great country and meet all different kinds of people and learn to appreciate them for it. It's our world, our county, and we all need to care about each other and respect that we are now and always will be different, thank goodness.

    January 9, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Peter

    Inciting violence, implied or overtly, is a crime Sarah Palin.

    I doubt it you see it that way but real Americans do.

    Shame on you Sarah Palin, Shame on you!!!

    January 9, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Name

    The rhetoric needs to cool. Where are our leaders?

    January 9, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Palin may not have put the gun in the hands of this assassin, but she does bear some responsibility for the incivility that currently pervades our society, as do many others. You can slice and dice it any way you want but the incendiary rhetoric she spews on almost daily basis to incite her base, also has the effect of pushing dangerous people over the edge to threaten and / or commit acts of violence. Palin’s not alone; Bachmann, Angle and DeMint are just as guilty, as well as many other politicians (from both sides), along with many political pundits who’ve become very wealthy by spreading their own brand of hate and prejudice. After yesterday’s tragedy they should all be deeply ashamed and embarrassed by their past actions, but I doubt of any of them have a conscience to allow such reflection, and I’m sure they’ll all be back to the usual business of spreading hate once again tomorrow. I hope Palins mouthpiece is being paid well, because she just made a complete fool of herself by defending the boss.

    January 9, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Jim

    Yes its "appalling" because it we all know Palin is the real victim here.

    Also: Targeting a district with a "surveyor symbol"? That is a seriously lame attempt at spin.

    January 9, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. Maeve

    Rhetoric like Palin's -"list of 20 folks in her crosshairs" is beyond stupid. Unless Sarah has been living in a cave or under a rock somewhere, she should have known that there are mentally unbalanced people who would act on it. Unfortunately, Palin only has one real agenda– to make money. The half Governor is an idiot. Her speech writers or P.R. people should have advised Sarah to delete that statement from her talking points. Then there is the want-to-be Senator from Nevada, Sharron Angle, the sign painters at the Tea Party rallies, Jan Brewer... There is a ton of blame to go around. We all hope and pray that the victims of this senseless shooting recover. We also offer our condolences to the families and friends of the victims who died in this monstrous killing spree. It's time to "dial it down" when threats of violence are used in public speeches and campaign rally rhetoric.

    January 9, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Joseph B

    I dont know what is more disgusting – Palin making the initial comment or her defending it in spite of what happened. Sarah Palin – it is time to "man up" and take some responsibility for your actions.

    We all need to tone down the heated rhetoric and focus on having civil discussions rather than trying to win the one-liner, fact-light, popularity contest that most of the non-politicians grew out of in junior high school.

    January 9, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Sick of Tea

    Palin may not have put the gun in the hands of this assassin, but she does bear some responsibility for the incivility that currently pervades our society, as do many others. You can slice and dice it any way you want but the incendiary rhetoric she spews on almost daily basis to incite her base, also has the effect of pushing dangerous people over the edge to threaten and / or commit acts of violence. Palin’s not alone; Bachmann, Angle and DeMint are just as guilty, as well as many other politicians (from both sides), along with many political pundits who’ve become very wealthy by spreading their own brand of hate and prejudice. After yesterday’s tragedy they should all be deeply ashamed and embarrassed by their past actions, but I doubt of any of them have a conscience to allow such reflection, and I’m sure they’ll all be back to the usual business of spreading hate once again tomorrow. I hope Palins mouthpiece is being paid well, because she just made a complete fool of herself by defending the boss.

    January 9, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. C Smith

    People like Palin are exactly who should be blamed for this. They have let their ignorance and bitter hatred for Obama cloud their judgment and put up websites with targets on them. If they didn't think that putting a target on someone's face and letting people know not to retreat, but to reload, would incite violence then that is sheer negligence. Palin, Beck, Hannity, Rush and the rest of the people like you, please take a look at yourselves today. This is YOUR FAULT and you should be so ashamed.

    January 9, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Chuck

    Who knows what caused Loughner's switch to flip. But Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, and other pathological conservatives seem to think its okay to espouse viscous, violent, vitriol towards liberals, and then wash their hands if some nut job actually takes them seriously. Not buying it.

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. curtther

    Although Mrs.Palin is not directly responsible for pulling the trigger. Her and every fox host,including Rush and mark levin has blood on their hands no matter how they spin this one. with their anti this and that rhetoric,are the blame. The only thing they believed is that one of theirs would be attacked first. How's that working for you hate mongers now! Game over, you lose.

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Dave

    If you are not feeling guilty then why do you have to deny it? Why did you put something like that up in the first place? You know how many unbalanced people there are in America today. It just takes one nut to look at your web site, see that idiocy and say "if Palin is endorsing it then it must be right". Nope, Sarah, you and Rush and Glenn and Lara and the rest of the right and left wing nuts don't pull the trigger but you plant the seed. You propel the events in motion. Then you refuse to accept the consequences of your actions. Now the shoe is on your foot and you find it is just too tight. Various members of the tea party have advocated banning books and even burning books in the past. We need to burn Palin's, Limbaugh's, Beck's, Coulter's, and Ingram's books. We need to stop this evil in its tracks and send them all back to selling shoes or insurance or whatever they were doing before they were spreading hate full time. Time to put the right wing and left wing monsters back under the bed where they belong.

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Mark

    CNN already started to link Palin just because she apposed the victim "politically"

    Our media has destroyed the country. Not terrorist. Not the Iraq war. Not the housing bubble burst. The media

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Susan in Arkansas

    I seriously doubt that Sarah Palin or her staff know what a surveyor's symbol looks like. But she certainly knows what the cross hairs of a rifle scope look like. This was intentional and she knows it. You can't spread the kind of vitriolic verbal crap she does, then try to distance yourself when something tragic happens. One can only hope that she learns a lesson from this event. And, with respect to Mansour's comment about Ms. Palin's comments not being tied to this event, she needs to be reminded that given a felony murder, the driver of the get-a-way car is charged the same as the perpetrator who fires the gun.

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Lone Rider

    Why is it when someone has a different opinion than yours you think they hate you. I believe its called "paranoia".

    January 9, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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