Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arizona Congresswoman Shot. Fighting For Life.

 **Update**  Beyond Our Greatest Hopes

During remarks at Arizona University last evening President Obama gave the nation good news that Congresswoman Giffords opened her eyes.

"I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak.  And I want to tell you, her husband, Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you: right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time", exclaimed the president.  

Giffords was last Saturday afternoon at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona during one of her 'Congress on the Corner' events where she met with the community to discuss political issues of concern.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz recall their visit with Giffords at University Medical Center where Giffords is recovering quite remarkably. 

Read their remarks below:

Kirsten Gillibrand:  "Well, we were very excited that we were even going to have the chance of getting to visit her hospital room. We didn’t know when we first came whether we had that opportunity. And so when we did have the chance, we were so excited to get to see her. And when we came in the room, the doctor was there, her parents were there, Mark is there, and  Speaker Pelosi and Debbie and I went in.

And we just were so excited, so we were telling her how proud we were of her and how she was inspiring the whole nation with her courage and with her strength. And then Debbie and I started joking about all the things we were going to do after she got better. And we were holding her hand and she was responding to our hand-holding. She was rubbing our hands and gripping our hands so we could -- she could really -- we knew she could hear and understand what we were saying and she moved her leg, and so we knew she was responding. And the more we joked about what we were going to do, she started to open her eyes literally.

And then you have to recognize, her eyes hadn’t opened -- we didn’t know that -- and so she started to struggle. And one of her eyes is covered with a bandage because it was damaged in the gunfire. So her eye is flickering. And Mark sees this and gets extremely excited. And we didn’t -- I didn’t know what that meant. And so he said, Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes. And he’s really urging her forward. And the doctor is like perking up and everyone is coming around the bed. And she’s struggling and she’s struggling and it’s a good -- we couldn’t figure it out, maybe 30 seconds, where she’s really trying to get her eyes open, like doing this, this, this.

And then she finally opens her eyes and you could she was like desperately trying to focus and it took enormous strength from her. And Mark could just -- can’t believe it. I mean, he’s so happy. And we’re crying because we’re witnessing something that we never imagined would happen in front of us.

SENATOR GILLIBRAND:  "And we just thought, okay -- and you could watch -- when you’re watching her eyes, she’s really trying to focus. Like you could see she hadn’t opened her eyes in days. And then instead of giving the thumbs up, she literally raises her whole arm like this -- like this. It was unbelievable. And then she reaches out and starts grabbing Mark and is touching him and starts to nearly choke him -- she was clearly trying to hug him.

And so like -- she was -- it was such a moment. And we were just in tears of joy watching this and beyond ourselves, honestly. And then Mark said, you know, touch my ring, touch my ring. And she touches his ring and then she grabs his whole watch and wrist. And then the doctor was just so excited. He said, you don’t understand, this is amazing, what’s she’s doing right now, and beyond our greatest hopes."

Doctors, addressing the media earlier this week, also report that she is breathing on her own.


Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head during a public event in Tucson today.

Congresswoman Giffords with now House Speaker John Boehner.

Giffords has represented Arizona's 8th Congressional district since 2007 and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats. She was the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from Arizona. Giffords narrowly defeated tea party-backed Republican Jesse Kelly to win a third House term in November, sources say.

 Giffords and 18 others were targeted in the event.  While Gifford remains in critical condition, several people have passed.  Among them 9 year old Christina Taylor Green (born 9/11/2001) who was there to watch Congress in action since recently having been elected to serve on her school’s student council.  Other victims include

"This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded", said President Obama.

"We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers."

Twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner has been charged and is believed to have targeted Giffords.

Giffords' congressional office in Tucson was vandalized in March after she voted in favor of the health care reform bill.


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