An independent U.S. senator from Vermont drew criticism Tuesday from Republicans for citing this past weekend’s shootings in Arizona in a fundraising letter for his 2012 re-election campaign.
The e-mail that Sen. Bernie Sanders sent Tuesday begins by mentioning the shooting spree in Tucson that killed six people and left Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others wounded. The letter also mentions issues such as health care, Social Security and taxes.
In his discussion of the shooting, Sanders mentions the vandalism that occurred last year at Giffords’ district office after the House passed President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and threats made against other Arizona Democrats, including Rep. Raul Grijalva and former Rep. Harry Mitchell, who was defeated in the November mid-term elections.
“Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?” Sanders said in his letter.
He added that “the Republican Party, big money corporate interests and right-wing organizations will vigorously oppose me” in his bid for a second term.
He thanked supporters for contributions already sent and added, “There is no question but that your financial support now and in the future is much appreciated.”
The letter drew attacks both from national and state Republican party leaders.
Sanders said in his letter that the nation’s political climate had been damaged by a “right-wing media echo chamber” that is “transmitting a reactionary world view to the tens of millions of millions of Americans who watch or listen to them every day.”
In a separate statement, state Republican Chairman Steve Larrabee said: “By using this tragedy to demonize those he disagrees with, the Senator is doing exactly what he pretends to deplore.”
Sanders’ office issued a statement saying the letter covered a number of issues facing the country.
“Most of the space in this newsletter dealt with the senator’s views on the economic implications of what will be happening in the new Congress,” it said. “Given the enormity of the tragedy in Arizona, however, it would have been absurd not to comment on what happened there.”
Sanders was not the only one looking to raise money in the wake of the shootings.
On Monday, the Tea Party Express sent an e-mail to its members asking for contributions.
“One thing that surprised us was how many in the news media and liberal political figures and organizations immediately launched into an attack on the tea party movement — assigning blame for the shooting to our grass roots, Constitutionalist movement in general, and Gov. Sarah Palin in particular,” the group said. “Friends, this is outrageous.”
The e-mail included a link supporters could click to make contributions online.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press