In the aftermath of the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, freshman Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday defended his controversial campaign ad involving a gun.

In a 30-second ad that aired at the height of the campaign in October, Manchin (D-W.Va.) was shown shooting a hole through what is supposed to be a copy of the cap-and-trade energy bill. 


Manchin said people should not confuse his actions with those of Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of shooting Giffords (D) on Saturday.

“I've spent my whole career bringing people together, avoiding the rancor of partisan politics, and that will continue to be the focus of my work as U.S. Senator going forward. The act of a deranged madman who commits a horrific act should not and cannot be confused with a metaphor about a piece of legislation," he said in a statement.

"I have never targeted an individual, and I never would," he added. 

Examples of heated political rhetoric, especially those from the 2010 midterm campaign season, have come under increased scrutiny since the shooting.

Members of both political parties have accused the other of crossing the line with violent political statements. Liberals have said statements from Republicans such as former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have inflamed political debate, increasing the likelihood of violence.

Some conservatives have criticized those making these arguments, saying both sides use fiery rhetoric. Conservative pundit William Kristol on Monday compared attacks on Palin on McCarthyism. Palin targeted Giffords for political defeat, using a website with graphics that put some congressional districts in crosshairs. 

Manchin said that Giffords's shooting should serve as a "wake-up call" for both sides to cooperate more often.

"This tragedy, I hope, serves as call for common sense, and wake-up call that we should all come together with common purpose to do what is best for our country.”