Politics & Government

Kentucky political leaders condemn 'national tragedy', offer condolences

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler predicted fellow elected leaders would make fewer public appearances after Saturday's shooting of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others at a political meeting in Tucson, Ariz.

Chandler, D-Versailles, was among Kentucky congressmen offering condolences following the shooting, and condemnation of the act.

Chandler said more security discussions would take place in the coming days, and fewer political public appearances are possible.

"That's a sad thing because a democracy is very dependent on ... those of us who serve the public to have the opportunity to visit with the public," he said.

Chandler said Giffords was a force in the Blue Dog Democrats, a self-described group of moderates, of which he also is a member. "I know her very well," Chandler said in a phone interview Saturday night. "She's a lovely person, and very, very capable."

He said neither Giffords nor the other victims deserved what happened. "I'm sure all of them were good people, and now many of them are dead and many others are fighting for their lives for absolutely no reason at all."

Chandler said Capitol Police had issued warnings to all U.S. representatives and senators after the attack, urging them to be cautious of their surroundings and to make sure police in their districts know where they live and where they will be holding events.

Such an attack has been foreseen for some time, he said, brewing in violent public discourse he attributed to divisive media reports.

In addition to Chandler, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, and Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, and GOP Sen. Rand Paul issued statements.

Sen. Mitch McConnell called the shooting a national tragedy. "All America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service," he said.