Out of context but in the campaign: Candidate calls Gabby Giffords ‘hero of nothing’
June 4th, 2012
08:16 PM ET
11 years ago

Out of context but in the campaign: Candidate calls Gabby Giffords ‘hero of nothing’

(CNN) – An Arizona Republican congressional candidate may have called Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a “hero of nothing” six months before the tragic shooting that severely wounded the congresswoman, but that’s not stopping a super PAC supportive of his opponent from making sure the statement, out of context, haunts him.

Giffords, who was shot in the head in January 2011 when a gunman opened fire at an event she was holding at a Tucson grocery story, stepped down earlier this year to focus full time on her recovery.

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The new ad, sponsored by the House Majority PAC, uses a clip from an August 2010 campaign speech by Republican Jesse Kelly, who at the time was running against Giffords. It shows Kelly criticizing Giffords, saying "now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some kind of hometown hero. She's a hero of nothing."

Kelly, a former Iraq war veteran, lost that race but is now running in a special election against Democrat Ron Barber, the former district director for Giffords who was also shot and injured in the 2011 incident. Six people died then, including a nine year old girl and a federal judge. Giffords endorsed Barber to take her place. The election is June 12.

The super PAC, however, defended using only a portion of the speech in the spot and taking the “hero” statement out of context.

"It's all Jesse Kelly in his own words and it speaks to his character," Andy Stone, spokesman for the independent House Majority PAC, which was set up to counter outside GOP groups, told CNN on Monday.

Emphasizing the message Democrats are repeating to voters in this swing district, Stone said the ad "clearly shows voters in Arizona that Jesse Kelly has dangerous ideas and is out of step."

Responding to the ad, Kelly said his campaign would focus on the issues at hand.

"This race is about Ron Barber's support for ObamaCare and Obama's Cap-and-Trade energy tax and we will remain focused on the issues important to the families of Southern Arizona," the candidate said in a statement.

In addition to the short snippet of Kelly talking about Giffords, the Democratic PAC's ad also uses clips from Kelly talking about lowering the corporate tax rate to zero and Social Security and Medicare being a "ponzi scheme" and argues his views are "extreme."

But in the full version of the August 2010 speech, Kelly attempted to make the case that Giffords did not reflect the views of Southwest voters. He called the then-incumbent congresswoman a "big spending San Francisco liberal" and cited her "extreme" positions supporting the "government takeover of health care bill” and federal spending that increased the national debt.

The House Majority PAC is spending in the "low six figures" to run this ad, according the Stone, and already spent $300,000 on an earlier ad that called Kelly "dangerous."

With about a week until the election, both Democratic and Republican aides say the race remains close. So far Barber has not appeared in any campaign commercials with Giffords, who is still a popular figure in the district, but the Arizona state Democratic Party has mailed out campaign materials to voters showing the two of them together. Over the weekend the Barber campaign announced that Giffords would join him at a rally on Saturday in Tucson.

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Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Kris Craig

    I'm a liberal and I think this ad is absolutely SLEAZY! This is no different than when the Bush campaign used John Kerry's quotes out-of-context to falsely portray him as a war criminal. This is the sort of thing we expect from Republicans. The Dems, for all their general political ineptness, were at least able to stand above the worst of it. But now, thanks to Citizens United, I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    If he had said that after the shooting, the quote would be fair game. But he said it SIX MONTHS BEFORE! Seriously, the sole purpose of playing that is to essentially lie to voters, falsely accusing this Republican of saying she wasn't a hero for persevering after the shooting.

    The Democratic opponent needs to denounce this ad and publicly demand that it be pulled and that this particular PAC issue a public apology for lying to the American people. This is an absolute disgrace.

    June 4, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. Dan from Tx

    I don't think that Mrs Giffords is necessarily a hero but Mrs. Palin is definitely an accomplice to the villain.

    June 4, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  3. Donkey Party

    Republicans hate it when their words are used against them. Wake up America, stop voting for the GOP domestic terrorists.

    June 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    I do not know as to why you say "hero of nothing" in that back-ward, poor, cactus torn land of Arizona. Arizona needs to grow up to the world expectations. It needs to know we are in 21st century not 3rd. Arizona needs education. Yes, on Obama2012.

    June 4, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. sassysticks53

    This republican's hateful words are catching up to him.

    June 4, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. c'mon america

    Stop the distortions ! If your the best for America then simply be the best . Stop making it so hard to know the truth ! Stop it ! If you believe in a United States and a united people act like it . Distortions and outright lies aside , most of us are closer in thought and deed than we think . Demand better from politicians and and the political process !

    June 4, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    Every time you think repugs can't get any lower, you're proven wrong.

    June 4, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. Another white lie

    Progressive Democrats will stop at no lie to gain power. They are greedy and power hungry to no end.

    June 4, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Out of context isn't totally wrong. It does make one wonder if the person who said isn't an inconsiderate... Well, I'm sure the people of Arizona can make up their mind.

    June 4, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    The comments shouldn't be taken out of context, but I would hope Republican Jesse Kelly has issued Rep. Giffords an apology – and acknowledged that she is indeed a hero, not unlike Kelly and his comrades who served in Iraq.

    June 4, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. Squigman

    Just another outburst of republican compassion. Every time a republican expresses his opinions to the media, it's either outrage, threats, childlike behavior or downright terrorist tactics against political opponents. If the republican party were to be deposed from office, and never elected again it would be a blessing.

    June 4, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  12. jocko

    Jesse is a guy who rails against the stimulus package but makes his living off of it. He's another tea party pant load.

    June 4, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  13. Sydnium S. Washington

    Nice. Where's she?

    June 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  14. MrManhattan

    Fifteen or twenty years ago, I would have called that "below the belt". But since that time, the Republicans have lowered the belt so far that it now seems like fair game.


    June 5, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  15. Larry L

    But was he born in the U.S.? Shouldn't somebody from Arizona check it out?

    June 5, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  16. Ann

    Never trust anybody filled with as much hate and envy as this GOP loser. Anybody read, A SAFEWAY IN ARIZONA, by journalist Tom Zoellner? Unreal stuff going on in that state!

    June 5, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Once again the teapublikans show their black heart to the world.
    A hero of nothing for a woman who has come back from being shot in the head. Let's NOT forget the nine year old girl and the others who died.
    I guess they don't count either!

    June 5, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  18. Wake up people

    My heart goes out to Congresswoman Giffords but I would have to tell them not to run that ad. This statement was clearly made months before her injury. I don't care for all of the lies and things taken out of context. If I were the Congresswoman I would not appreciate someone using that tragedy in that way for political gain. The republicans have done enough or haven't done enough to use against them.

    OBAMA 2012!

    June 5, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  19. enuff

    This goes to show that people should be careful with their words or they just may have to eat them someday. Where is Palin and her gun sights on this one?

    June 5, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |