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Arizona– Even as they unite in grief, Democrats and Republicans are splintering over the role that violent political rhetoric – exemplified by Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” list – played in Saturday’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Both sides say the tragedy transcends politics – but their partisan positions are already hardening and the talking points are starting to take shape. Democrats argue that irresponsible utterances on the right have increased the likelihood of bloodshed – while Republicans, feeling the pressure, are accusing their critics of distorting the facts and politicizing the actions of a deranged psychopath.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, the suspect in the point-blank shooting of Giffords and murder of five others, left a trail of bizarre and meandering web screeds that offer little indication of a coherent political ideology apart from a deep distrust of government.

But Giffords herself – in a seemingly prophetic MSNBC appearance last March warned of possible “consequences” to her inclusion on a SarahPAC email to supporters that placed gun crosshairs on her Tucson district.