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On CBS Evening News, Tucson Sheriff Dupnik Doubles Down

On Monday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric announced that Democratic Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had "been thrust into the national spotlight for some remarks he made," adding, "he's not backing down." In the interview that followed, Dupnik asserted: "If you're in law enforcement and you're not a right-winger you get all kinds of heat from the right-wing nuts."

Couric noted how Dupnik "blamed the rampage in part on overheated political rhetoric, saying Arizona has become, quote, 'a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.'" She acknowledged that "some Republicans have called his remarks irresponsible" and challenged the Sheriff: "Some people would say you were overly politicizing the situation. That it appears at this juncture - although it's unclear - that this was a loan deranged individual that might not have been inspired to do this at all for political reasons." Dupnik laughingly professed: "I'm not a political person by nature. I've been a police officer my entire life. I have no agenda."

In an interview with local news station KGUN9-TV on April 27, 2010, Dupnik attacked Arizona's newly passed immigration law: "Pima County's top lawman says he has no intention of enforcing Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik calls SB 1070 'racist,' 'disgusting,' and 'unnecessary.'"

On Monday, Dupnik explained his comments about the shooting to Couric: "I was very, very angry and I think that there are millions of people in this country who are very concerned about the tenor of things in this country, particularly when it comes to politics." Couric wondered: "How does this community heal?" The Sheriff kept pushing politics: "I think this country needs to tone it down. When I was growing up, it was a different country."

Interestingly, in an interview with CBS's Julie Chen on April 12, 2000, Dupnik commented on a Tucson middle school teacher who shot herself in her classroom and then claimed an intruder had perpetrated the crime. At that time, Dupnik was unwilling to ascribe any specific motivation to the woman, stating: "We're dealing with irrational behavior, and when you try to rationalize irrational behavior, I - I think you wind up putting yourself behind the eight ball."

Here is a full transcript of Couric's January 10 interview with Dupnik:

6:42PM ET

KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, one law enforcement official has been thrust into the national spotlight for some remarks he made following the shooting. On Saturday night, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat, blamed the rampage in part on overheated political rhetoric, saying Arizona has become, quote, "a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry." Some Republicans have called his remarks irresponsible. I spoke with the Sheriff earlier today and he's not backing down.

CLARENCE DUPNIK: If you're in law enforcement and you're not a right-winger you get all kinds of heat from the right-wing nuts.

COURIC: But some people would say you were overly politicizing the situation. That it appears at this juncture - although it's unclear - that this was a loan deranged individual that might not have been inspired to do this at all for political reasons.

DUPNIK: And we'll never know the answer to that because there's no way to get into the heart and soul of a person and find out what their true motive is. And second of all, we're dealing with a very troubled personality.

COURIC: You stand by what you said over the weekend?

DUPNIK: I'm not a political person by nature. I've been a police officer my entire life. I have no agenda. But I was very, very angry and I think that there are millions of people in this country who are very concerned about the tenor of things in this country, particularly when it comes to politics.

COURIC: How does this community heal?

DUPNIK: I think this country needs to tone it down. When I was growing up, it was a different country.

COURIC: There are also laws that allow you to take concealed or non-concealed weapons and carry them with you at all times. Is that correct?

DUPNIK: That is absolutely correct and that's the height of insanity. I don't know what else they can do. Maybe they can pass a law that we - that would require that every child have an Uzi in their crib.


- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.