Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin meets with Sanders, Jayapal amid spending stalemate America can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (I) issued a fundraising plea Tuesday in which he cited the Arizona shooting and accused "right-wing reactionaries" of contributing to a threatening political climate.

"Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, as well as the start of the new Congress, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few words with political friends in Vermont and throughout the country," he wrote at the opening of the lengthy plea for campaign donations.

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Sanders, who is up for reelection in 2012 and caucuses with Democrats, said that "threats and acts of violence" from "right-wing reactionaries" are intimidating people on the left. 

The e-mail was sent to Sanders's supporters on Tuesday, according to the Weekly Standard, and was touted by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which sent it around to reporters with the subject line "no comment."

It's an unusual move, considering most politicians canceled fundraisers and fundraising calls this week because of the incident in Arizona.

Sanders lists some of the threats and campaign rhetoric used against Arizona Democratic Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords (D), who remains in critical condition after being shot in the head at a Tucson, Ariz., event.

Sanders asked, "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?"

The first-term senator also cited conservative talkers such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity for expounding a "reactionary world view."

He called on Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  MORE (R) to "stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing." McCain issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the shootings after they occurred.

"Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred," Sanders wrote.

He closed by asking for contributions to help defeat the GOP's "disastrous set of policies." 


—This post was updated at 5:15 p.m.