Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik thrust himself into the spotlight in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 19 other people in Arizona on Saturday, decrying the heated political atmosphere and calling for more civility.
“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” he said on Saturday. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”
Dupnik immediately angered some on the right, who took his words to be directed at the tea party and conservatives, as well as Arizonans who took offense to his depiction of Arizona as “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said he didn’t think the sheriff’s words “had any part in a law enforcement briefing.” Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said he was “disappointed” in the sheriff. Conservative talk show host Neal Boortz said Dupnik was looking for political gain, and Fox News anchor — in an interview with the sheriff — wondered aloud why he would “inject political speculation” into the story.
They all argued that Jared Loughner, the suspected shooter, is a “madman” and that politics had nothing to do with the shooting.
Video produced by Rachel Slajda