Sarah Palin's 'Crosshairs' Ad Dominates Gabrielle Giffords Debate

Election ad featured 'crosshairs' and targeted Giffords for electoral defeat

ByJohn Berman
January 09, 2011, 2:03 PM

Jan. 9, 2011— -- In the stunned aftermath of the Tucson massacre, Sarah Palin has found herself in the crosshairs of the ensuing political debate with opponents suggesting she may have fueled the gunman's rage and her supporters saying it is "grotesque" to blame her and to politicize the tragedy.

Crosshairs is a political phrase that emerged from Palin's political action committee SarahPac that targeted congressional districts for the Tea Party campaign in the last election, including the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Although Palin later denied she meant the graphic over the districts to look like a gun sight, it is part of the hunting lexicon that critics say she prefers.

Comedian Frank Conniff tweeted: "Hey, Sarah Palin, hows that hatey, killy, reloady, crosshairsy thing working out for ya?"

Facebook executive Randi Zuckerberg said many people on the social networking site are asking whether Sarah Palin is to blame.

According to Zuckerberg that is the #1 question on the social network behemoth following the Tucson shooting.

Like so much with Palin, the roots are on Facebook. On her Facebook page last year when she posted the a map of 20 congressional districts targeted by SarahPac, the headline of the map: "It's time to take a stand."

At the time Giffords reacted to the map in an interview on a cable news program.

"When people do that, they've got to realize there are consequences to that action," Giffords said.

Follow John Berman on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/johnbermanabc and Twitter: @Berman14

No connection has been made between this graphic and the Arizona shooting, but it has put the Palin team somewhat on the defensive. Rebecca Mansour, a spokesperson for SarahPac, told conservative commentator Tammy Bruce, "We never imagined, it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent." Insisting she was speaking for herself, and not on behalf of Palin, Mansour added, "We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights."

However, following the initial controversy over the "crosshairs" last year, Palin issued her now oft repeated rallying cry, "Don't retreat. RELOAD."

Politico's Jonathan Martin was the first to point out that Palin herself, in a tweet last November following the election, referred to the crosshairs as a "bull's eye."

Sarah Palin in Crosshairs of Tucson Massacre Debate

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events