Reporting from Washington — A day after a gunman opened fire at a public event in Tucson hosted by Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, political vitriol was the focus among some lawmakers, and the politics surrounding the violence broke down largely along partisan lines on the Sunday morning talks shows.
Democratic members of Congress largely suggested that the shootings might have been sparked by increasingly bitter political rhetoric while Republicans described the suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, as "unstable" and "deranged" without a clear link to politics.
Despite the differing interpretations, most Democrats refrained from openly accusing their political opponents, including "tea party" leaders or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for ratcheting up the vitriol, as many in the blogosphere have done.
Instead, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinios said putting certain congressional districts in cross hairs, including Giffords', was "beyond the bounds" and "not acceptable rhetoric." During the 2010 campaign, Sarah Palin's Facebook page identified 20 critical congressional races by placing them in gun sights and at one point tweeted that Republicans should not "retreat" but "reload."