Now It's AZ Gov. Jan Brewer to Blame for Climate of Violence

On Wednesday, reporter Adam Nagourney offered a "news analysis" from Tucson on yesterday's speech by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer addressing the shootings in Tucson: "Governor Strives to Restore Arizona's Reputation." In attacking Brewer, Nagourney furthered the argument from his front-page story yesterday, in which he threw in all the combustible ingredients of Arizona politics - guns, border control, health care - and conjured up a stew of potential violence.

Here's Nagourney on Wednesday:

But no. "Today is not a day for politics or policy," Ms. Brewer said. For a fleet eight minutes, Ms. Brewer, looking sober and saddened, paid tribute to those who were killed and injured in a mass shooting on Saturday - and also offered something of a defense of a state whose reputation has been under a cloud.

"I want to speak to you about the Arizona I know, the place we saw again even on such an awful Saturday," she said. "It is a place of service, a place of heroes, a place with a bruised, battered heart that I know will get past this hideous moment."

Her remarks, a downstate reprise of the official State of the State address she gave to lawmakers in Phoenix on Monday, illustrate the challenges Ms. Brewer faces. She is eagerly trying to defend a state whose reputation has been battered in recent years, particularly since the massacre here on Saturday.

But fairly or not, Arizona's image has been forged in part because of Ms. Brewer herself, who has been identified with the tough law aimed at illegal immigrants, budget cuts that include denying aid to people who need life-saving transplants and laws permitting people to take concealed guns into bars and banning the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools.


Even some of Ms. Brewer's associates said they were hopeful that the governor and her allies in the Legislature would move away from initiatives that they said could further damage the state's image, in particular allowing guns in schools.

Nagourney sidled up to the suggestion that Brewer's allegedly "incendiary remarks" about drug violent spreading from Mexico to the United States had something to do with threats to Giffords.

More of an obstacle might be some of the incendiary remarks she has made as governor, such as claiming, without foundation, that headless bodies had been found in the desert. She made that statement in signing the bill that gave the police wide authority to demand proof of citizenship from people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

"She really did get caught up in a lot of this rhetoric that we are now concerned about as it relates to Gabby," said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University.