(CNN) – In her first interview since the Arizona shootings, Sarah Palin Monday sharply beat back critics who have suggested her at-times charged political rhetoric and use of a graphic featuring crosshairs may have contributed to the shooter’s motivations.
"The graphic that was used was crosshairs. That's not original. Democrats have been using them for years," Palin said in the interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, where Palin is a paid contributor.
"For many years maps in political races have been used to target certain districts that people would feel that they can get into those districts and find someone to whom they believe would represent the constituents' will better than the incumbent," she added.
The map in question – created by Palin's political action committee last spring - featured the crosshairs of a gun over the congressional districts of 20 Democratic candidates – including that of Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman who was shot in Tucson nine days ago. Last week, Palin aide Rebecca Monsour defended the graphic, saying the crosshairs were not those of a gun but rather "a surveyor symbol."
But Palin's PAC quickly scrubbed the graphic from its website after the shootings, a move Palin said she found appropriate.
"The contract graphic artist did take it down and I don't think that was inappropriate," said Palin. "If it was going to cause much heartburn and even more controversy I didn’t have a problem with it taken down."
In the 30 minute interview, Palin also addressed the criticism she has faced for her video response to the shootings posted last week on Facebook. Critics particularly took issue with the former governor's use of the term "blood libel," a phrase that for many conjures anti-semetic connotations.
"Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. In this case, that's exactly what was going on," she said, adding later, "Just two days before an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal had that term in its title. And that term has been used for eons."
The phrase, which traditionally refers to a long-standing anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder children for religious rituals, drew fire from the Anti-Defamation League and others. But Palin insisted critics were taking issue with the phrasing in hopes of derailing her overall message.
"It isn't about me personally, but it is about the message," she said. "I know that a lot on the left hate my message, and they will do all that they can to stop me because they don't like the message. They’ll do what they can to destroy the message and the messenger."
Meanwhile, when asked about speculation the recent controversies have disrupted any future political ambitions, Palin vowed she will continue to speak her mind.
"I am not ready to make an announcement about what my political future is going to be. But I will tell you ... I am not going to sit down. I am not going to shut up,"she said.