In an appearance on Good Morning America today, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) pushed back against assertions that violent political rhetoric was to blame for the weekend shooting rampage in Arizona, which left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) hospitalized in critical condition after being shot in the head. But Pawlenty said politicians must still be mindful that their words can potentially be misconstrued as incitement.
“There’s no reason to believe, at this point, that there’s any motivating factor tied to a particular politician or a particular show or a particular act. It appears to be the rage of a mentally unstable person, and sometimes they do irrational and senseless things,” Pawlenty said. “Let’s make sure before we make judgments or sweeping condemnations that we have all the facts up.”
When asked specifically about Sarah Palin–who has been widely criticized for her PAC’s map that used gun sights to target the districts of Democratic congressmen, including Giffords, who she hoped to oust in 2010–Pawlenty said there was no reason to believe that the map inspired the Tucson shootings, but that he would have been more tactful when launching a similar campaign.
“It wouldn’t have been my style to put the crosshairs on there,” Pawlenty said. “But again there’s no evidence to suggest that that had anything to do with this mentally unstable person’s rage and senseless acts.”
Pawlenty had previously made similar comments to the New York Times.TPM Slideshow: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: On The Job In Arizona
Pawlenty, who was on the program to discuss his new book and a rumored presidential bid (he declined to officially announce his candidacy when pressed for an answer), also said the tragic events would lead to a reassessment of what is and is not acceptable campaign rhetoric.
“It’s going to cause everybody to step back and say, we can be passionate. And should be passionate. We should be strong. But there’s a line as it relates to basic civility and respect, and not trying to invoke violence.”
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