Toxic political climate becomes suspect in Tucson rampage

WASHINGTON (AP) - While the gunman's motives remain unkown, the nation's political climate also has become a suspect in Saturday's rampage that left six dead and a lawmaker critically injured in Arizona.

Giffords was among lawmakers who reported threats and vandalism
in the first three months of 2010, nearly all involving the health care bill. She was also among the Democrats that Sarah Palin opposed in last fall's elections.

In March, Palin's Facebook page posted a map with the cross-hairs of a gun scope imposed over each of the 20 Democrats' districts. That prompted Giffords to object, saying people who use such images must "realize there are consequences to that action."

The Senate's second-ranking Democratic leader Sunday decried such
imagery and Palin's rallying cry, "Don't retreat; reload." Senator Dick Durbin tells CNN that "these sorts of things" can lead unstable people to believe that volence is an acceptable response.

Rep. Raul Labrador ran as a tea party favorite. On NBC's "Meet the Press" the Idaho Republican says while there are "extremes on both sides," the job of a leader is to "talk to people in a rational way" and "bring down the rhetoric."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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