CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Evangelist Franklin Graham is defending Sarah Palin against accusations from some that her use of gun imagery and rhetoric are partly to blame for the shooting of Rep. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
In a statement posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, Graham said he was "shocked" at such accusations and called Palin "a kind and compassionate God-fearing woman."
"Whether you agree with her politics or not, it is outrageous to suggest that her political opinions encourage violence toward anyone," the statement said.
Graham's statement came before the Wednesday release of a video on the issue by Palin that accuses journalists of "blood libel" and inciting "hatred and violence."
Following the example of his father, the Rev. Billy Graham, who was close to presidents and other political figures, Franklin Graham has formed a close alliance with Palin, the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee and a possible candidate for president in 2012.
Palin recently accompanied Graham to Haiti to inspect humanitarian efforts there by Boone-based Samaritan's Purse, which Graham heads. He is also CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Palin also sent out a tweet last weekend urging her supporters to go online to watch a streaming of Graham's Sunday crusade - he calls them festivals - for thousands of Christians in Haiti.
Graham also arranged, in late 2009, for Palin to visit Billy Graham's home in Montreat and visit with the Charlotte-born evangelist, now in his 90s.