Senator John McCain sees no problem with his former running-mate's advice that Republicans should "reload" and "aim for" Democrats in next fall's elections.
Sarah Palin's use of gun imagery in addressing her followers on Twitter and Facebook has been criticized as potentially inciting threats of violence, like those which are already being directed towards Democratic members of Congress who voted for health care reform.
"Considering these threats, these concerns that we've been hearing about regarding violence, do you now recommend that your party use less incendiary language?" NBC's Ann Curry asked McCain on Thursday.
"I have seen the rhetoric of 'targeted districts' as long as I've been in politics," McCain responded, chuckling. "To say that there's a targeted district or that we 'reload' or 'got back into the fight again.' Please."
"Those are not my words," Curry interrupted. "Those are her words."
"Those are fine," McCain reaffirmed, smiling broadly. "They're used all the time."
"With all due respect," Curry insisted, "given, however, the sensitivity regarding this particular bill, should this still be the language of this day? ... These are very dangerous times."
"The language that we should be using today is the language that we are using," McCain repeated. "We condemn violence. ... To somehow say that someone's in a battleground state is somehow offensive -- simply, I'm sorry."
Curry had previously asked McCain, "Do you see a connection between the statements that have been made, the angry statements that we've heard from Republicans on the Hill ... as encouraging the violence that we've seen, those who desperately oppose this health care reform law?"
"I've been involved in heated discussions and debates on the floor," McCain acknowledged, but he appeared to deny that the Republicans' rhetoric was whipping up the outrage of their supporters. "I'll tell you one thing that has people enraged," he suggested, "and that's the sleazy backroom deals, the sausage-making that is going on."
"It sounds like you're rejecting any connection, that there is any fanning of the flames," Curry noted. "And if that is true, then what is your message this morning to anyone who participated in that violence and who might be contemplating more violence?"
"I condemn it," McCain replied. "We should be translating that into voter registration and preparing for the next election."
This video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast March 25, 2010.