Giffords warned heated rhetoric could have 'consequences'

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head at a public event in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, said in a March interview the heated political rhetoric surrounding the healthcare reform debate could have "consequences."

Giffords, whose Tucson office was vandalized after she voted in favor of healthcare reform last March, discussed the matter in an appearance on MSNBC. She is currently in critical condition, but doctors are optimistic.

Some Democrats have responded to the shooting, in which five people were killed including a federal judge, by targeting inflammatory rhetoric that they said could encourage violent behavior.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said, "America must not tolerate violence or inflammatory rhetoric that incites political violence."

It is not known yet whether the shooting was politically motivated. A suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, is currently in custody.

In the March interview, Giffords noted that an image posted on a website run by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee used crosshairs to identify twenty districts that voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election that had congressional members who voted for healthcare reform.

"We are on Sarah Palin's targeted list,"  Giffords said. "The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of the gunsight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action."

In the interview, NBC's Chuck Todd pointed out that war themes have been part of political rhetoric for years, but Giffords maintained it had reached new heights.

"Some of my colleagues have served 20, 30 years, and they have never seen it like this," she said.

On Saturday, Palin offered her condolences to the shooting victims.

"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona," she posted on her Facebook page. "On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."

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