Sanders fundraises on Arizona shooting tragedy

by Rob Roper

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders sought to exploit the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and nineteen other victims, sending out an email fundraising letter to supporters on Tuesday, January 11, just three days after the event in Tucson, Arizona, took place.

Sanders letter begins:

Dear Friend,

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. I also want to thank the very many supporters who have begun contributing online to my 2012 reelection campaignat www.bernie.org.

Sanders spends the majority of his letter blaming Republicans for the shooting, including this passage: “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? Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?”

Vermont Republican Party chairman, Steve Larabee responded to Sanders’ fundraising tactics with a public statement:

“Since the senseless tragedy in Arizona, Americans of all political persuasions have come together with prayers for the victims. Unfortunately, there are some who are trying to score quick political points in this time of mourning. Senator Sanders’ fundraising appeal is perhaps the most blatant attempt to do so. By using this tragedy to demonize those he disagrees with, the Senator is doing exactly what he pretends to deplore.”

Sanders’ highly partisan, divisive rhetoric and attempt to profit from the tragedy stood in sharp contrast to statements made on Monday by Congressman Peter Welch during an telephone press conference with reporters which was broadcast live on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show.

Welch refused to assign blame to any party or group for the shooting, “This is a deranged person. What motivated him or what triggered him, I don’t know.” The Congressman further pointed out, “Each of us is responsible for the tone of our voices,” and that the tone of our own voices is “something we can control.”

“There’s an immense amount of over the top rhetoric and symbolism. It creates intensive anger. My second criticism is that it is the absence of argument. They don’t use reason or logic. It becomes an escape for a lazy mind, for refusing to lay out the logic of your argument,” said Welch.