Politics & Government

Ariz. congresswoman's e-mail to Ky. official urged moderation

Trey Grayson was congratulated by Giffords on his new job at Harvard.
Trey Grayson was congratulated by Giffords on his new job at Harvard.

LOUISVILLE — The day before she was wounded in a shooting that killed six people, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords sent an e-mail to a friend in Kentucky discussing how to "tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."

In the message, obtained by The Associated Press, the congresswoman, a Democrat, congratulated Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, on his new position at Harvard University.

She wrote: "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."

Giffords and Grayson met several years ago at a conference aimed at encouraging cooperation among Republicans and Democrats, and the two have kept in touch since then, Grayson spokesman Les Fugate said Monday.

In her message, Giffords promised to visit Grayson at Harvard. She said his new job was "a perfect fit for you" and called it "an incredible opportunity that will lead to wonderful things."

Grayson announced Friday he will resign as secretary of state to become director of Harvard's Institute of Politics.

On Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered flags at all state office buildings to be lowered to half-staff through Friday, Jan. 14, in honor of victims of Saturday's shooting.

"Saturday's senseless act of violence is truly unthinkable, and its repercussions have affected not only the citizens of Arizona, but this entire nation," Beshear said. "I ask that Kentuckians join with me in honoring and praying for the victims, their friends and families."

Beshear encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in the tribute.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday called the shooting rampage an "unspeakable act of violence" and said it would prompt a thorough review of safety precautions for members of Congress.

"When an elected representative is gunned down in the very active exchange of ideas with his or her constituents, democracy itself is under attack," he said. "All Americans are united in condemning this unspeakable act of violence."

McConnell would not address a reporter's question about whether the senator was concerned for his personal safety, given Saturday's events and his position.

"With all due respect to the question, which is a logical question, I don't think it's a good idea for me to be talking about security publicly," McConnell said.

He said Congress "will thoroughly review the safety precautions that members of Congress take and consider what, if anything, needs to change."

Earlier in the day, at a Shelby County school, McConnell participated in the national moment of silence that had been called for by President Barack Obama.

"I think it's important to remember that we don't have all the facts yet," McConnell said during remarks to the Nicholasville Rotary Club. "But what we do know is this: Violence has no place in the democratic process. And this heinous crime will not deter any of us from carrying out our duties. A strong democracy depends on a free and robust exchange of ideas, and the actions of one deranged man this past weekend will not change that."

The Rotary Club meeting was in the R.J. Corman Railroad aircraft hangar off the U.S. 27 Bypass. Former President Bill Clinton spoke in the same building in August.

There was a visible presence by uniformed Nicholasville police, but Chief Barry Waldrop said the seven officers at the event were not any more than usual.

Corman will ask local police to provide security when there is an event like the McConnell appearance at the hangar, Waldrop said.

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