Giffords bids farewell to Tucson voters

TUCSON, Ariz Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:05pm EST

1 of 6. U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords tours the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center with Food Bank CEO Bill Carnegie in Tucson, Arizona January 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Matt York/Pool

Related Video

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - Representative Gabrielle Giffords walked stiffly into an Arizona charity on Monday in a bittersweet farewell to voters before she steps down to focus on recovering from an assassination attempt last year.

Giffords, 41, was greeted by loud cheers from dozens of workers, volunteers and well-wishers as she entered the warehouse of a Tucson food bank, accompanied by an aide, Ron Barber, himself wounded in a shooting rampage that nearly killed Giffords.

When a supporter shouted, "Hi, Gabby!" she mouthed back a silent "hello" before mingling with members of the crowd, then visited a family-assistance center named in her honor after the tragedy and set up within the warehouse complex.

Among those gathered for her goodbye were a number of people present on the day she was shot through the head, some of them also wounded.

Giffords departed after about 30 minutes, pausing to handle a jar of peanut butter on a pallet of donated food as she left, without addressing throngs of media there to record the event.

"It's a bittersweet day," said Bret Berry, a foodbank board member who spoke briefly to the Arizona Democrat. "I applaud her for what she is doing in stepping down and getting herself 100 percent. But she's been a phenomenal advocate for the district here and a representative for Arizona."

Earlier on Monday at her district office in Tucson, she gathered with people including some who had provided emergency medical care and helped tackle the alleged killer.

Giffords was shot at close range when a gunman opened fire at her and bystanders gathered for a "Congress on Your Corner" meet-and-greet event outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8, 2011.

Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, and 13 others including Giffords were wounded.

"I'M GETTING BETTER"

Giffords on Sunday said she would resign from office this week to focus on her recovery from the head wound that has left her with faltering speech and some restricted movement.

"I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week," she said, posting the statement on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. "I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much."

Seen as a rising political star and a centrist politician, Giffords was one of the Democrats who prevailed in the Republican sweep of swing districts in the November 2010 elections.

She is set to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday in Washington in one of her final official acts before resigning from the House of Representatives.

Her office said she would submit her letter of resignation this week to House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Arizona law requires Brewer to call a special election to fill Giffords' seat.

Since the shooting, she has received intensive therapy at a hospital in Houston, Texas, and she has been assisted by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

Jared Loughner, a 23-year-old college dropout, was charged with first-degree murder, the attempted assassination of Giffords and other crimes stemming from the shooting. He pleaded not guilty and was found mentally unfit to stand trial.

(Editing by Steve Gorman, Daniel Trotta and Xavier Briand)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
Darr247 wrote:
Since she was technically on the job when the injury occurred, she should get workers comp at her current pay rate until she’s either fully recovered or takes disability retirement.

Jan 22, 2012 11:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
FoxxDrake wrote:
First…

@Darr247 – Why do you care what compensation she gets? She should get standard disability like everybody else. Or is she somehow better than us? We got a deficit to think about.

Second…

She’s disabled so severely she can’t do the job, her quitting is the responsible thing to do.

It’s just such a shame it was a good one and the evil one’s keep trucking along. It’s truly the devil’s world or where already in hell.

Jan 23, 2012 2:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
moonhill wrote:
She looks like she is getting better all the time. I wish her a complete and full recovery. She is an amazing woman.

Jan 23, 2012 11:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

BOSTON, ONE YEAR LATER