In a floor speech nearly three years ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised the sheriff investigating the deadly Arizona shooting spree who has faced criticism from the right. 

Reid (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor on April 15, 2008, to praise the "truly commendable" 50-year law enforcement career of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. 

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"Clarence Dupnik is known as a man of action, integrity and innovation," Reid said. "These skills have been invaluable to his 50 years of service to Arizona, and the nation."

A number of media figures and lawmakers, including conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, have criticized Dupnik for saying that a high level of political "vitriol" was connected to the incident that ended with Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.) being shot in the head at close range.

Dupnik, on the Saturday of the shooting, blasted "the vitriol and rhetoric we hear day in and day out from people on radio, on TV," and called Arizona "the mecca of prejudice and hatred."

Most Republicans and conservatives have argued that the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, opened fire on the crowd at the meet-and-greet event with the congresswoman not because of a coherent political ideology, but because he was suffering from a mental illness.

But some Democratic lawmakers have said there is a direct connection between the fiery campaign rhetoric from 2010 and Giffords's attempted assassination.

During his speech, Reid praised Dupnik, who became Pima County sheriff in 1980, for reducing the crime rate as the county's population doubled while fighting drug trafficking organizations and participating in community service efforts.

"With Sheriff Dupnik's great example in mind, I hope that we can all work together to reduce crime in our nation," Reid said.