Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TOP STORY > >Massacre in Arizona hits home

Leader senior staff writer

Former Second District Rep. Vic Snyder and his successor, Rep. Tim Griffin, have both weighed in over the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the deaths of six people, including Arizona’s Chief Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, and the wounding of 14 others at Giffords’ meet-and-greet with constituents outside a Safeway store in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff, Chief Judge John Roll and others today while Rep. Giffords was meeting with her constituents,” Griffin said Saturday. “This senseless act has no place in our country. My prayers are with Rep. Giffords, her husband and family, her staff, the family of Judge Roll, the other victims and all those affected by today’s tragic event.”

“We both were on the House Armed Services Committee,” Snyder said. “I knew her before she was elected. She is wonderful, sincere, witty and upbeat about politics and life in general,” Snyder said.

He called her attempted assassination “a horrendous event. Most people could not think of a nicer person.”

Some have been angry that Giffords was “targeted” on a Sarah Palin website–the same website Snyder was targeted on.

“I took a different view than some,” said Snyder, reached at his Little Rock home. “I’m not as offended.”

He said the term “targeted” has been used as a metaphor “in the rough-and-tumble world of politics.”

Snyder, who has said he retired in order to remain home in Little Rock with his family, including young triplets, said he thought it was “stupid” when the website took credit for his decision not to run for re-election.

“They claimed credit for our having triplets,” he said.

Snyder said that addressing the tone of the public political dialogue–the name-calling and threats and anger–was long overdue, but “I think I have a problem in taking one incident (and making that connection)” the former congressman said. “It’s been a worthwhile discussion to have for several years.

“There has been a coarseness to our rhetoric. And people are willing to promote thoughts that are contrary to facts,” he said.

Snyder said that three years ago, he was on a radio talk show and “a guy called in with a lot of talk about getting armed and getting what he wanted one way or another.”

“He threatened me and the talk-show host didn’t stop him or defend me,” he said. Snyder said he reported the incident to the Capitol police.

He said he had not decided what his next act would be now that he has retired from national politics.