Missouri Republican Rep. Roy Blunt, who's running for U.S. Senate, posted a video on his campaign website last month juxtaposing his opponent Robin Carnahan's support for Islamic center with images of the 9/11 destruction which occurred just two blocks away. He later claimed not to know about the ad and it was pulled down, but the audio of Carnahan's statements remains.
In Kentucky, Republican candidates Trey Grayson and Rand Paul both unleashed ads featuring 9/11 during their GOP senate primary battle. And in New York, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has defended putting scenes from the attacks to eerie music in a video ad highlighting his opposition to the proposed Ground Zero Mosque.
"This was one of the most traumatic attacks in living American history and people are going to use it to make points," said David Perlmutter an expert in use of imagery in political communications at the University of Iowa.
"There was a grace period after the attacks when people didn't want to think politically or see politicians using images from 9/11 in a calculated way," he said. "But war and politics have never been inseparable."
As for Palin and Beck's stated desire to keep politics out of their event on Saturday, Perlmutter said it may be impossible to do because of their very nature.
"When you are an elected official or hope to be an elected official, it's hard to separate politics from what you do all the time," he said.
And even if they could, opposing local political groups are already planning rallies before the event and outside the venue, the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.
"I'm not going to say what others should or shouldn't do," said Pataki of the Palin-Beck event. "I certainly believe it's important we never forget we were attacked and commemorate the day appropriately."