Sarah Palin Accuses Media of Blood Libel

Photo Courtesy - Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASILLA, Alaska) -- Now is not the time for people to "apportion blame" for the weekend rampage that left six people dead and an Arizona congresswoman clinging to life, Sarah Palin said in a video statement posted on her Facebook page.

"But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn," Palin said.

"That is reprehensible."

Defiant in the face of those who charge that her heated rhetoric encourages such violence, Palin noted that criminals are responsible for their own actions, "not those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle."

"After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event," she said.

The video followed earlier comments in which Palin said, "I hate violence." That was her reaction to the shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others that has once again placed the former Alaska governor in the middle of the national political discussion.

The words were part of an email exchange read by conservative commentator Glenn Beck on his syndicated radio show and first reported by Jonathan Martin on Politico.

Here is the full email as read by Beck:

"I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love. And God has the answer. - Sarah"

Palin's comments come amidst the swirl of rhetoric concerning the most discussed "crosshairs" in political memory. On her Facebook page last year, Palin posted a map of 20 Congressional districts being targeted by her political action committee, "SarahPac," in the 2010 midterm election. Gabrielle Gifford's Arizona district was one of them.

At the time Giffords herself responded.

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

Though there are no known ties whatsoever between shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner and Sarah Palin or any part of the Tea Party movement, the "crosshairs" became part of the media coverage of the Tucson shootings from the very beginning.

Rush Limbaugh entered the fray on his radio show today, accusing liberals of "making fools of themselves to take an incident like this and to try to turn it into a political advantage by accusing people that have nothing whatsoever to do with this sordid, unfortunate event, as accomplices to murder. It's silly on its face."

"Don't kid yourself," said Limbaugh. "What this was all about is shutting down any and all political opposition and eventually criminalizing it. Criminalizing policy differences, at least when they differ from the Democrat Party agenda."

Conservative pundits have rushed to Palin's defense. One blogger unearthed graphics produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which featured red target symbols on certain Congressional districts. A graphic produced by the Democratic Leadership Council in 2004 featured bulls' eyes.

Former Pennsylvania Congressman Chris Carney, who himself was in Palin's "crosshairs," told a Pennsylvania newspaper, "I'm not sure if 'blame' is the right word for Ms. Palin, but I think it wasn't helpful, obviously…It would be very useful if she came out and, if not apologize, say that she was wrong in putting that sort of logo on peoples' districts."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reince Priebus Has Edge in Race to Republican Chairman

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With just days to go until members of the Republican National Committee elect a chairman to lead them into the 2012 presidential election cycle, Wisconsin's Reince Priebus appears to have the edge, while incumbent Michael Steele seems to have the longest odds for keep the job.

The consensus among party insiders, however, is that the race is still essentially anybody's game.

With five candidates vying for the position, including current RNC Chairman Michael Steele, this Friday's election could turn into long day of arm twisting.

So far, Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus has captured more endorsements from the 168 GOP state chairs and national committee members than any other candidate.

Steele, former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner and long-time Republican operative Maria Cino appear to be trailing.  But dozens of members are either undecided or unwilling to publicly commit to a candidate.

One RNC committee member told ABC News there's a "pretty deep and wide consensus among a lot of us that Steele needs to go."

Whoever wins will inherit a party committee that, despite impressive midterm election year victories, is hobbled by financial woes, including debt reaching into the tens of millions as well as a crippled major donor program.  The job won't be about being figurehead for the party -- that role will fall to the eventual Republican presidential nominee -- but rather about running an organization that many committee members believe has veered off course.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pelosi Set to Travel to Tucson with President for Memorial Service

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will travel to Tucson, Arizona Wednesday with President Obama aboard Air Force One to attend a memorial service at the University of Arizona to remember the victims of Saturday’s shooting.

Pelosi, D-Calif., will begin her day at the Capitol and is expected to sign books of condolences before meeting the president and Mrs. Obama at Andrews Air Force Base for the cross-country flight.

President Obama is scheduled to speak at the memorial service at 6:00 p.m. local to remember the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz. that left six people dead and 14 wounded. Pelosi is not expected to speak at the memorial service.

The memorial service, called “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America” will take place at the McKale Center and is open to the public free of charge. The event will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence, a poetry reading and the presentation of a chain featuring messages from members of the public.

Back in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, members of Congress will participate in a bipartisan prayer service to remember and honor the victims of the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Congressional Approval Jumps with New Session

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- A new Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that Americans gave a 20 percent approval rating to Congress through the first week of January.

The new numbers are an increase from a record-low approval rating of 13 percent in December and 17 percent in November. The current numbers reflect where they had sat from around May through October of 2010.

A surge in the approval ratings of Republicans helped to lead the overall rebound. From the last Gallup poll in December, GOP approval numbers ballooned to 22 percent, the highest that number has been in nearly two years, from just seven percent the month before.  Democrats saw a modest increase from 16 percent to 24 percent.

Although the poll was taken from January 7th-9th, the same weekend as the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona, it does not reflect any drastic changes in the job Congress is doing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A resolution to be read on the House floor Wednesday will honor the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, and will also single out a number of individuals for heroic action on the scene of Saturday's bloody rampage.

The text of the measure reads that "Representative Gabrielle Giffords was a target of this attack, and remains in critical condition at an Arizona hospital" and "condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific attack which occurred at the ‘Congress on your Corner’ event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011."

The resolution also honors each individual killed in the shooting, including Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' congressional aide who was killed in the shooting.

"Whereas Gabriel Matthew Zimmerman, who was 30 years old and engaged to be married, served as Director of Community Outreach to Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and was a social worker before serving with Representative Giffords," the resolution reads.

The resolution also recognizes the heroic action of many attendees who sprung to action to stop suspected gunman Jared Loughner at the "Congress on Your Corner" event last Saturday.

"Whereas several of those in attendance at this event, including Patricia Maisch, Roger Sulzgeber, Joseph Zimudie, and Daniel Hernandez, Jr., helped apprehend the gunman and assist the injured, thereby risking their lives for the safety of others, and should be commended for their bravery," the resolution reads.

The measure also “applauds the bravery and quick thinking exhibited by those individuals who prevented the gunman from potentially taking more lives and helped to save those who had been wounded.”

The measure will be considered under a Unanimous Consent request and, at the request of House Republican leadership in consultation with Democratic leaders, likely will not have a recorded vote in order to enable members of Congress to travel to Tucson for a memorial service Wednesday.

There will also be an hour of debate set aside to discuss the resolution, affording individual members the opportunity to speak out about the tragedy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top Republican Rep. Peter King to Introduce Gun-Control Legislation

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Peter King, R-New York, announced Tuesday that he will introduce a bill to ban knowingly carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.
“[Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and I have discussed that we are introducing in the next several weeks legislation which would make it a federal crime to carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of any event which is attended by the President, the Vice President, members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, Cabinet officials, including the CIA director as well as federal judges,” King announced Tuesday morning at City Hall in New York City.
The attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, and the subsequent shooting that killed six people last weekend is the first notable assassination attempt of a public official that transpired into a mass shooting.

King is the first Republican to introduce gun-control legislation in the wake of Saturday’s shooting. Others, including gun control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, have also said they will introduce legislation aimed at cracking down on firearms.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Leader Pelosi Visits Rep. Giffords' Congressional Office

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dropped by the congressional office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Tuesday afternoon to meet privately with the Arizona Democrat's staff to comfort them in the wake of Saturday's massacre in Tucson.

Pelosi arrived at the office on the ground level of the Longworth House Office Building just after 2:00 p.m. and stayed for about 19 minutes before departing.

The former Speaker of the House did not address questions regarding her visit as she walked away.

A top aide to Pelosi says “she was there to pay her respects and visit with the staff,” but would not reveal any details of the private moment.

In addition to the attempted murder of Gabrielle Giffords, suspected gunman Jared Loughner is charged with killing Giffords’ director of community outreach Gabe Zimmerman and wounding two members of her congressional staff, Ron Barber and Pamela Simon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calif. Governor Reduces State Employee Cell Phones by Half

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – California Governor Jerry Brown Tuesday issued an executive order to cut back the use of cell phones by state employees.

By June 1, state agency and department heads will have to turn in 48,000 cell phones. The number represents half of the government-paid cell phones that are now in use.

“Even with a 50-percent reduction, one-fifth of all state employees will still have cell phones,” he said.  “That still seems like too much and I want every department and agency to examine and justify all cell phone usage.”

Brown estimates the order will save the state around $20 million a year.  The move was his first executive order since taking office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McCain Cuts Short Trip to Attend Arizona Memorial Service

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain is cutting short a congressional trip to Latin America to return to his home state of Arizona for Wednesday’s memorial service for the victims of last weekend’s Tucson shooting.

McCain and his wife Cindy will both attend the memorial service, according to the senator’s spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan.

McCain left last Friday with Sen. John Barrasso on a week-long trip to Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Panama and Mexico, but now McCain will head home early to attend the service at the University of Arizona.

Hours after Saturday’s attack that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, fighting for her life, killed six including federal judge John Roll, and left over a dozen others injured, McCain issued a scathing statement calling the attacker “a disgrace to Arizona, this country, and the human race.”

The service is set to take place at 6 p.m. local time. The White House announced Monday night that President Obama will attend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rhode Island Governor Declares War on Talk Radio

Photo Courtesy - Office of Governor Lincoln Chafee(PROVIDENCE, RI.) -- State officials in Rhode Island will soon be ordered to stay off the airwaves, provided the interviewer happens to be a talk show host.

A spokesman for Gov. Lincoln Chafee tells the Providence Journal that talk radio is essentially “ratings-driven, for-profit programming,” and “we don’t think it is appropriate to use taxpayer resources” to have state employees use work time to “support for-profit, ratings-driven programming.”

Chafee intends to stay off the air, too, reversing something of a trend.  His predecessor, Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri, was a frequent talk radio guest, as are many current and former governors and big city mayors across the country.

A former mayor of Providence, who happens to be one of the biggest talk show hosts in the state, sharply disagrees with the governor’s stance.

“Chafee is – I don’t want to be critical – but he’s not exactly Demosthenes,” says Buddy Cianci, who hosts the afternoon drive program on WPRO-AM.  “The fact is that he’s got some issues that he maybe doesn’t have the answer to [on the air].”

“But how do I take it?  I take it as a total slap in the face to the public of the state of Rhode Island.  There are thousands of people who listen to our radio shows.  For him to ban all these people from coming on talk radio is certainly an affront to open government, and certainly is an affront to transparency,” Cianci tells ABC News.

The governor’s office has issued a clarification, saying the policy will not apply in “emergency situations,” like impending snowstorms.  Nor will the rule apply to interviews with news reporters or on the local NPR station, Christian Vareika, a Chafee spokesman, said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio