Tucson, AZ - In the wake of the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in which six people were killed and 13 others were injured, a spokesman for Giffords' Republican opponent dismissed claims that the 2010 campaign's heated rhetoric had anything to do with the tragic incident.
"Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," read a promotion for a June fundraiser for candidate Kelly.
"I don't see the connection," responded Kelly spokesman John Ellinwood, pointing out that the suspect in Saturday's shooting appeared to have had no affiliation with the Kelly campaign. "Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners; this was just a deranged individual."
"Well, that's a relief," said Eldon Task, publicity manager for Don Tell, Republican candidate for Executive Dog Catcher in nearby Lloron Naranjo. "We've already been gearing up for the next campaign, and I'd hate to have to throw away all of those practice targets we just had printed with a photo of our opponent."
"And that's not all." Task brought out boxes of campaign trinkets to be given away at parades and fairs and other public events on the campaign trail. "Just check out these sweet little toy rifle sights: Hold them up at just the right angle, and you'll see the opponent dead center in the crosshairs."
"Or how about these toy bullets with the opponent's name printed on them. Cute as a button, ain't they."
Other cheap plastic giveaways included toy knives, toy grenades, and toy water guns screen printed with the opponent's image superimposed with a red circle-slash.
"Shoot-down-the-damn-Democrat is a proud Arizona tradition," said staff member Deena Isle. "In a strictly metaphorical get-out-the-vote sense, of course."
"There's no connection whatsoever between these cute little gimmicks and the ideas deranged individuals get into their heads," insisted Task. "It's just good, clean, all-American fun."