Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) accused liberals of wanting to "manufacture" a political controversy over conservatives' rhetoric even before the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Paul, in dismissing the notion that alleged shooter Jared Loughner was motivated by political ideology, accused some Democrats of trying to exploit the attack as a way of boxing in Republicans.
Republicans — and even some liberals — have dismissed the notion that the aggressive rhetoric employed at times during last year's campaign created an environment that led to the attack on a member of Congress and others.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) fell under the most scrutiny for words and images she used during 2010 — including a map with crosshairs targeting House districts, including Giffords's. She responded in force on Wednesday, stirring up still more controversy by accusing the media of "blood libel" against her.
"I'm not surprised that they do it," Paul said of the attacks on rhetoric. "I do think they should be ashamed of themselves for doing it and [it] really just has no place in this discussion."