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Posted at 5:03 PM ET, 01/ 8/2011

White House, lawmakers react to attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

By Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

Updated: 10:39 p.m.

The White House, lawmakers and others react to the news of Saturday's attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.):

President Obama:

"This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded. We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers."

Vice President Biden:

"The horrific attack in Tucson, Arizona, this morning has taken the lives of at least five people, including a federal judge and a young girl, and left many others wounded, among them a dear friend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Gabby is one of the finest members of Congress I know. She is a principled leader and a consensus-builder. She has spent her time in office working her heart out to improve the lives of the people she represents. And she loves her husband and family above all else. On this tragic day, Jill and I are praying for Gabby's recovery, and we hold her family in our hearts. Chief Judge John Roll was a dedicated jurist whose death is a terrible loss to Arizona and to the country. We do not yet know the motivation behind these shootings. But what we do know is that there is simply no justification, no rationale for such senseless and appalling violence in our society. Please join Jill and me in praying for each of today's victims and for their families and loved ones."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

"Ms. Giffords represents a new generation of principled and thoughtful political leaders that have come to Washington in recent years. We will miss her strong character and good judgment in the Congress during these important days ahead, and we are praying for her full recovery."

U.S. Capitol Police:

"The United States Capitol Police are directly involved in the ongoing investigation regarding the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. We are currently working with Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. While the United States Capitol Police does not specifically discuss the security of Members of Congress including details on our protective measures, the United States Capitol Police has communicated with House Members of Congress advising them to take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security. The United States Capitol Police remains at a high level of readiness, consistent with our operating conditions on U.S. Capitol Grounds, and we continue to maintain a robust presence."

Giffords chief of staff Pia Carusone:

"An unthinkable tragedy occurred at our Congress On Your Corner event today in Tucson. Our community has lost beloved friends and colleagues, and many more are injured. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of them and to those who are suffering the loss of treasured friends and family members."

Attorney General Eric Holder:

"As the President said, FBI Director Mueller is traveling to Arizona to help coordinate the investigation. The FBI is working jointly with local law enforcement to investigate today's events, and I have directed Department prosecutors and law enforcement officials to use every resource necessary to investigate this tragedy. I want to assure the people of Arizona and every American that we will hold accountable anyone responsible for these heinous acts."

Chief Justice John Roberts:

"The violence in Arizona today has senselessly taken five lives and inflicted tragic loss on dedicated public servants and their families. We in the judiciary have suffered the terrible loss of one of our own. Chief Judge John Roll was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years. I express my deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his children, as well as the other victims and their families. Chief Judge Roll's death is a somber reminder of the importance of the rule of law and the sacrifices of those who work to secure it."

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.):

"We never entered [politics] believing that we were taking our lives in our hands...we're feeding anger, hatred, and division for quite a while. Maybe it is time for elected officials and leaders in this country that have been feeding that disease to realize that there are consequences to it. I hope people stop and think that we can be opponents, but we don't have to be deadly enemies...to demonize another person because of a disagreement and to make them expendible is not a democracy, it's not the America I know. ... People are feeding this monster. ... Some of the extreme right wing has made demonization of elected officials their priority."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

"I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.):

"I was deeply horrified to learn today of the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and her family, her staff, and the residents of Tucson on this sad day. As this serious situation continues to develop, I remain in close communication with leaders of both parties, the Speaker's office and the Sergeant at Arms. We will remain in constant communication regarding any schedule changes."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

"It is with the deepest sadness that we have received word of the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff, and her constituents. This terrible act of violence is a national tragedy, and today is a very sad day for our country. My prayers, and the prayers of all Members of Congress, go out to her, her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, their family, and to all of the staff and others who were victims of this horrible attack. Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and courageous Member of Congress, bringing to Washington the views of a new generation of national leaders. It is especially tragic that she was attacked as she was meeting with her constituents whom she serves with such dedication and distinction."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):

"My thoughts are with the victims of today's tragic attack, including Congresswoman Giffords, and all their families. I hope for a speedy recovery for the congresswoman and all of the wounded, and that those responsible will be brought to justice quickly. This is a sad day for our country, and acts of senseless violence such as this one affect us all. Congresswoman Giffords is one of our most dynamic members of Congress. As a representative of a neighboring state, I have watched her career closely and admired her work on behalf of the state of Arizona. I know she will be in the thoughts of every American - and in particular those who dedicate their lives to public service as she and her staff have."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

"This senseless attack today in Tucson is a national tragedy, and all America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service. I join the entire Congress in condemning this horrifying act of violence, and on behalf of the entire Senate family, Elaine and I extend our deepest expressions of sympathy and heartfelt prayers to Rep. Giffords and the families of those who have been killed or injured. The U.S. Capitol Police are joining local, state and federal officials in this investigation. We appreciate their quick response and stand ready to assist in their efforts."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.):

"I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones. Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:

"I am deeply shocked and horrified by the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and her constituents. Today's senseless act of violence is an attack on the American ideal and goes against our country's deeply held democratic values. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Representative Giffords and the families of all of those who were victims of this national tragedy."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine:

"The terrible act of violence in Arizona has left us all aghast. It is a sad day for America and our thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Giffords and all the victims of this tragedy. The facts of this criminal act are still to be determined, but we thoroughly condemn what happened in Arizona today. We must all reaffirm that there is no place in our country for violent attacks of this kind on public servants or any citizen for any reason. I know that I speak for our entire Democratic family in saying that my heart goes out to the victims of today's shooting and to the families of those who have perished as a result of this act of violence. My prayers continue to be with those who have suffered from and are responding to today's tragic event in Arizona."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel:

"I am shocked and saddened to learn of the horrific and tragic shooting of my friend Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and constituents today. Gabby was doing what she loved, working in her district and connecting with constituents. My thoughts and prayers are with her, her husband Mark and family. This is both a personal tragedy and a tragic reminder that we cannot remain silent when political rhetoric turns violent."

Businessman Jesse Kelly (R), Giffords' 2010 GOP challenger:

"In the wake of this stunning tragedy, my prayers are with Rep. Giffords, her husband Mark and the rest of her family. May God's strength comfort her as we pray together for her recovery. We mourn for those who lost their lives in this horrible act. Senseless acts of violence such as this have absolutely no place in American politics."

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich:

"Please join us in praying for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and everyone shot in this tragic attack, as well as for their families."

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

"We find it unacceptable that when Americans and our elected leaders are assembling in public places, their lives are at risk from gun violence. We also are deeply concerned about the heated political rhetoric that escalates debates and controversies, and sometimes makes it seem as if violence is an acceptable response to honest disagreements."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):

"Our form of government, like all human things, is imperfect and flawed; but one of its greatest virtues is its power to resolve questions of the greatest import without violence. An attack on a member of that government--of whatever party or whatever views--is an attack on that principle, in which every American has a stake."

EMILY's List:

"Gabby is a pioneer, a tenacious fighter, and a true friend. EMILY's List members throughout the country have been inspired by Gabby and stood shoulder to shoulder with her during her political career -- we all stand together today with deepest sympathy for Congresswoman Giffords, her family, and the other victims."

LGBT Equality Caucus

Giffords served on the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. That group released a statement about the shooting.

"Congresswoman Giffords' support for our LGBT family has never faltered. After coming off of one of the closest races in the most recent election cycle, one in which she was criticized for her support of equality issues, she didn't hesitate for a moment to support the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' She has stood with us unrelentingly and in this sad time we stand with her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Congresswoman, her staff and their families," said LGBT Congressional Staff Association President, Chris Crowe.

Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT organization based in D.C., also released a statement about the shooting from group President Joe Solomonese:

"We are shocked and saddened by the events involving Congresswoman Giffords and our hearts go out to her and the other victims of this awful tragedy. Gabby Giffords is a champion for LGBT equality and a principled leader for Arizona. We wish her a speedy recovery as our thoughts and prayers are with her family as well as with the families of all of those touched by today's horrific violence."

By Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake  | January 8, 2011; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Witness: 'He was just firing'
Next: Slain federal judge John Roll was at the center of Arizona's immigration debate

Comments

Don't forget Representative Cantor's office was attacked awhile back. Its neither a left or right; liberal or conservative problem. Its an attack on everyone that serves, and it threatens the ability of our representatives to meet constituents. My representative frequently holds public meet and greet sessions in our local grocery stores. Now he's wondering if he can continue to do so. They can't hold meetings, if doing so endangers their lives and the lives of everyone near the event.

We used to be able to travel via the airlines without much inconvenience. Now we have to take off our shoes, and endure a pat down. So this is what will be needed just to attend a community townhall meeting. A few violent people make life miserable for everyone. When will it end?

Posted by: AnnsThought | January 9, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

This represents the impact of the use of extreme rhetoric in our national discourse.

This is the time for Republican and Democratic leaders to join together and stop engaging in stupid comments such as that of Mr. Mitch McConnell, and others (from both parties). The rhetoric is not limited to any particular side (just read the comments on the vast majority of websites) and our leaders need to lead on this issue.

It is appalling to see that such comments seem to have continued right after the event and also not to see leaders from either party step forward and abjure or recommend the toning down of the language being used today. We need to be one people, where our thoughts can be expressed and debated in a rational manner and not through the use of violence. Let the voting booth let our people express their decisions.

Posted by: USDude123 | January 9, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

jornolibist: His two favorite authors seem to have been Adolf Hitler and Ayn Rand. Neither of them known for being Leftists. From the looks of this, a sick man has been used to further the violence of the Right.

Posted by: friarjohn00 | January 8, 2011 11:44 PM | Report abuse

FButler1, it is as offensive for you to suggest that Michele Bachmann should be shot as it is for right-wingers literally to target Democrats.

Reasonable minded people need to demand that violent rhetoric be eliminated from our national discourse.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 8, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

The shooter burned the flag and loves the communist manifesto sounds like a liberal and typical Post journalist.

Posted by: jornolibist | January 8, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Man, why couldn't it have been Michele Bachman getting shot in the head? Why is it always liberals and Democrats getting shot? Freaking Fox News and their violent rhetoric. Tea Party people and Glenn Beck will have their day in the sun, too. It won't be too long before one of their own turns on them.

Posted by: fbutler1 | January 8, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Man, why couldn't it have been Michele Bachman getting shot in the head? Why is it always liberals and Democrats getting shot? Freaking Fox News and their violent rhetoric. Tea Party people and Glenn Beck will have their day in the sun, too. It won't be too long before one of their own turns on them.

Posted by: fbutler1 | January 8, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

of all the people hurt by the credit crisis. if 10% of them looked for vengence, there would be millions out on the street looking for justice...
I recommend that the politicians stay off the streets and run on their record...
not the lies they tell us every day...

Posted by: DwightCollins | January 8, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

mmm..I wonder if this was a Republican representative,who was shot,if the repugs and teapartiers would have the same attitude as they are taking now.They very well know why this happened and it wasnt because of some person's state of mind.It was because of the right wing nuts on Fox news encouraging this very action by some idiot who watches every thing they say,and they knew this would happen eventually.Score one for Palin,Limbaugh,Beck and company.

Posted by: nannieturner | January 8, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

.


"Republicans don't retreat, they reload" - Sarah Palin


"Americans (Republicans) are going to have to start using 2nd Amendment remedies if the voters don't get it right." - Sharron Angle


ENOUGH SAID...!


CONGRATULATIONS REPUBLICAN/TEABAGGER DOMESTIC TERRORISTS!!!


ALL YOUR HARD WORK PAID OFF TODAY, YOU FINALLY HAVE DEMOCRATIC BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!!!


.

Posted by: DrainYou | January 8, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

This was a political assassination attempt egged on by public figures allied with the Tea Party who urged dissenters to "reload" and seek "second amendment remedies". Again and again, we've seen Tea Party gatherings with people prominently and threateningly displaying their firearms, and applauded for doing so.

If this very disturbed person took such encouragements seriously, then those who fostered such messages deserve as much of the blame. Telling someone to go shoot someone is as guilty as the person pulling the trigger.

Posted by: Pupster | January 8, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

jbb65, so what! What difference does it make? The group targeted being the tea party is because a lot of people who claim the tea party also talk about resorting to their second amendment rights to deal with their problems. Sarah Palin herself had no problem using the cross hairs of a rifle to get her point across. The point here is that a constant 24/7 barrage of fear, scare, smear and hate coming from the right fuels actions like this. By trying to deny the constant negative rhetoric from the right didn't impact this situation is typical of those on the right. The right fuels all of the hate and negativity and then the first thing they do is come up with any little tiny thing to blame everything else. Never, ever accepting responsibility for anything, how typical.

Posted by: catmomtx | January 8, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I do find it disgusting that people like Governor Brewer and other Republicans are acting shocked that something like this has happened. Our country has been subjected to two years of constant negativity, fear, scare and hate. Republicans have refused to address the disrespect of the duly elected President by those on the right including Congress members. They have allowed right wing radio and television to spew hateful and disrespectful rhetoric and Republicans have not only allowed it but used it to pursue their narrow minded agenda.

It says a lot when Representatives from the only other party disrespects the duly elected President of the United States of America. It says a lot when Representatives from the opposing party say loud and often that they have no intentions of working with the duly elected President. It says a lot when Congress members have no problem saying they want the President of the United States to fail, that they want to make him a one term President. That they want to undo everything he has accomplished over the past two years. Yeah, it says a lot that you now have Republicans acting Shocked and appalled when a member of the opposing party is shot in the head as she meets and greets her constituents.

Posted by: catmomtx | January 8, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Please do your homework before making comments. The shooter consumes himself with communist themed literature and the like. Doesn't sound very "Right winged" to me ... and why am I not surprised that the first group targeted is the Tea Party? Senseless to be pointing fingers at this time ... our concern should be the welfare of the families of those shot or killed and lifting them up in prayer ...

Posted by: jbb65 | January 8, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

This is just an example of the "tea partiers"bringing guns to politicial rallies and townhall meetings.This was bound to happen sooner or later.Sarah Palin should be arrested for encouraging these people to"lock and Load',and other such irresponsible remarks.This woman and others like her are a threat to civilized society.That goes for Beck,Limbaugh and the entire Fox network.They use these poor,ignorant people to do their filthy work for them.They are probably all laughing right this minute.

Posted by: nannieturner | January 8, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is just some random kook, but let's face it, right wing Republicans fuel violence like this with all their talk about second amendment solutions and delegitimized Democratic presidents (birthers, Clinton impeachment). Guys like Tim Mcviegh and various militia's only seem to come out of the woodwork during democratic administrations. Sharon Angle's 'second amendment' solutions and Sara Palin's target map are just variations of the right wing Republican strategy to taunt and demean people that have vary legitimate, but different, views of America. All of their "shock" and "horror" is just BS. What we need from them is an apology, a commitment to debate fairly, and a commitment to respect alternative view points that they are free to disagree with. If needed, though, I will defend the diverse America that I believe in.

Posted by: jmII | January 8, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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