Tea Party Patriots Leader: Giffords Shooting "Not a Political Act"

As politicians and pundits continue to parse the motives of 22-year-old accused gunman Jared Loughner, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler said Monday that connecting the Tea Party with the incident is "politicizing an enormous human tragedy."

In an appearance on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged," Meckler said, "It's outrageous that the media and some folks in politics jumped to that immediately. They looked to gain political points out of something that's an enormous human tragedy."

"It shows how dehumanized our political system and our media have become."

In a post Sunday on the website for Tea Party Nation (a separate Tea Party group), founder Judson Phillips wrote: "In a moment, a leftist lunatic destroyed a half a dozen lives."

Calling the message "craziness," Meckler said people like Phillips and Tea Party Express' Sal Russo "should know better." According to Meckler, Russo said earlier Monday this incident is an example of the Tea Party movement becoming the victims.

"This is not a political act. This is an act of a person who is not mentally well and we should deal with it in those terms," Meckler said in an interview with CBS News political analyst John Dickerson.

"It's our responsibility as people in the public sphere to push the conversation to the human tragedy and remove it from the political," he said.

CBS News' Bob Orr, Jan Crawford and Nancy Cordes and Politico's Jonathan Martin also appeared on "Washington Unplugged" Monday, as well as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and CBS News' Dr. Jennifer Ashton live from Tucson.

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