WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) defended Sarah Palin Sunday, saying that it is irresponsible for the media to be bringing up her much-discussed image of political targets from the 2010 election in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others in Arizona.
In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Alexander objected to a question about the crosshairs map from host Candy Crowley, saying she was tying Palin to the tragedy:
CROWLEY: Let's -- let's cut that connection then, and let me just ask you as a question separate and of itself, is it over the line politically these days, given the kind of climate we're in, to be talking about or graphically showing a politician in the crosshairs or talking about taking them out?
Is that -- was it over the line, sort of, specifically, since it's now being talked about everywhere, with Sarah Palin's web ads about people that she would like to see targeted for political defeat?
ALEXANDER: Well, Candy, I think you're -- I think you're responsible, by bringing this up, of doing the very thing you're trying to condemn. I mean, you're making and implying a direct connection between Sarah Palin and what happened yesterday.
CROWLEY: No, I specifically said we need to tie it away from that.
ALEXANDER: By picking out a particular -- picking out a particular incident. Well, I think the way to get away from it is for you not to be talking about it.
CROWLEY: No, Senator Durbin did bring it up, so that's, kind of, why I am.
When Crowley asked him if political rhetoric revolving "around ammunition and guns" could lead to "this type of thing" (although not the specific incident in Arizona), Alexander said he wasn't sure.
"I mean, as I said, this -- this individual -- what we know about this individual is that he read Karl Marx; he read Hitler," he replied. "We know he was burning the American flag. Now, that's not the profile of a typical Tea Party member, if that's the inference that's -- inference being made. I think, obviously, we're much better off in our country if we peaceably assemble, treat each other with respect, show courtesy and condemn people who go over the line, and particularly those who do it violently as this individual did yesterday."
The map in question was part of Palin's "Take Back the 20" campaign in the 2010 elections, in which she urged Americans to vote out of office 20 Democrats from conservative districts who had supported health care reform. Shortly after Saturday's tragic shooting in Arizona that claimed the lives of six people and wounded 13 others, observers began noting that Palin had put Giffords on her "bullseye" list, which included a map with crosshairs over the targeted districts. SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour has stated that the image was never meant to evoke guns or violence.