"There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those "calm days" when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?
To answer her question, there was indeed a time in which we had vigorous political debate without the threat of violence from major party candidates.
FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and even Bush Jr never threatened "2nd Amendment Options" if they lost - and neither did their major party opponents.
Palin is correct that one Senatorial contest ended in a duel, when Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton. It's a pity her political and historical knowledge doesn't extend past 1804.