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Sarah Palin: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State Ex-Coach Accused Of Child Rape, Should 'Hang From The Highest Tree'

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Sarah Palin may have toned down her her fiery political rhetoric since she drew widespread criticism for it in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. But the ex-Alaska governor isn't holding back on the subject of Jerry Sandusky, the coach at the center of the sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed Penn State.

During an appearance on "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren" Tuesday night, Palin once again conjured up violent imagery, this time in the name of justice. (Her remarks on Penn State begin at about the 14:30 mark.) The Fox News host mentioned that presidential candidate Rick Santorum had said that Penn State should not be allowed to play in a bowl game this year. Palin responded:

"I would like to see the players not suffer more than they have suffered. As for the perp, and perps, though, that allowed the sinfulness to go on as they had allowed in the past, you know, I say about this assistant coach, Sandusky--hang him from the highest tree, I'll bring the rope. I think it's pathetic, it's horrible, it's atrocious what took place. If it is true that these children were victimized, then he himself and anybody who allowed what he did to go on, they should be the one to suffer, not today's young players who have been innocent in all of this."

Van Susteren pressed Palin to clarify that she meant Sandusky should be hanged after a criminal justice process, not vigilante-style, "lest we start too much of a...mess in the media."

"Hang him from the highest tree and I'll bring the rope if he's guilty of what's been alleged," Palin said, adding that if Sandusky were found to have abused children, "he needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

As Frank James at NPR notes, "the 'fullest extent' of the Pennsylvania law in cases where adults are convicted of a felony for raping a child or children would be a lengthy prison term or terms that could add up to life in prison. It isn't the death penalty."

The remarks came at the end of an appearance during which Palin offered her opinion on the field of Rebublican presidential candidates.

Politico reports that the criticism about Palin's past incendiary tactics, including highlighting vulnerable Congresspeople with gun sights on a map, has drawn renewed attention since the release of Gabrielle Giffords' book, "Gabby." Before she was shot, the book reveals, Giffords had told her husband that Palin's rhetoric "sends the wrong message," and is "a dangerous thing to do."

Palin has kept an uncharacteristically low profile since announcing in October that she would not run for president.

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