(MONTPELIER, Vt.) -- Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, sent out a fundraising email Wednesday to supporters in which he includes his analysis of the Arizona shootings that ties the tragedy to “right-wing reactionaries.”
“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders said in his letter. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”
The Vermont senator, who caucuses with Democrats, cited past Arizona incidents, such as vandalism at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district office after the health care reform vote and Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map, as well as other outbreaks of violence like when a bullet was shot into Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office.
"In light of all of this violence -- both actual and threatened -- is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?” asks Sanders. “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?”
“My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more,” Sanders said. “As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.”
Republicans quickly started to flag the email as an attempt by Sanders to raise money off of the tragedy.
A spokesman for Sen. Sanders has defended the fundraising email by saying that Sanders regularly sends out such letters to supporters giving his views on key issues and “it would have been absurd not to comment on what happened” in Arizona.
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