- Frenetic search for survivors as 91 feared dead in tornado-hit Oklahoma |
- Israel fires back at Syria after gunshots at its troops
- Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated -USGS
- Dollar firms as Fed suspense builds, shares off highs |
- IRS officials back on Capitol Hill hot seat over targeting
Storm chasers brave danger and debris as they try to capture photos of tornadoes' destructive power. Slideshow
Ex-Giffords aide Barber sworn in to U.S. House
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ron Barber, a former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who was wounded along with her in a deadly shooting last year, was sworn in on Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives to take the Arizona seat she vacated to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head.
Barber, a 66-year-old Tucson Democrat, won a special election last week to succeed his one-time boss, who retired in January from her position representing a southern Arizona district.
"I'm going to approach my work ... with an eye not towards partisan victory but towards American achievement," Barber said in a swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the House, evoking Giffords' reputation as a moderate Democrat in the Republican-dominated body.
Barber, accompanied by his three granddaughters, waved and smiled from the House floor as members in the chamber cheered.
Barber was shot in the face and thigh when a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol in January 2011 on a crowd gathered for an event at which Giffords was speaking outside a Tucson-area supermarket. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded, including Giffords and Barber.
Barber spent months in physical therapy. He told Reuters last week that he had been "energized" by the campaign, and had been walking without a cane for the past two months. He will serve the six months remaining from Giffords' term.
Barber's win is a boost for Democrats ahead of the November general election when Democratic President Barack Obama faces off against Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.
In Arizona, which has favored Republican presidential candidates in every election but one since 1972, Obama trails Romney by 6 percentage points, according to the website Real Clear Politics.
REPUBLICANS OUTNUMBER DEMOCRATS IN DISTRICT
Barber beat Jesse Kelly, a Tea Party-backed Republican and Iraq war veteran in Arizona's 8th Congressional District, where Republicans outnumber Democrats. Barber could face Kelly again in November when voters elect a representative for a full two-year term. Barber has filed a petition to run in that race.
In Arizona, Barber was boosted by an endorsement from Giffords, whose popularity and political stature climbed as she soldiered on through a difficult recovery. Before the shooting, Giffords was seen as a rising Democratic star in the House.
Giffords, 42, has been undergoing rehabilitation in Houston.
Barber had served as Gifford's district director and was her handpicked successor.
Barber has focused his campaign on rebuilding the middle class, protecting Medicare and Social Security, bolstering services for veterans and reforming immigration efforts. He has said he wants more agents at the Arizona-Mexico border.
Barber has also said he wants the nation to be more energy independent, and Tucson to become the "solar capital of the country."
The man charged in the Tucson shooting, Jared Loughner, 23, has pleaded not guilty to 49 criminal offenses, including first-degree murder. He has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial and is undergoing psychiatric treatment at a federal prison hospital in Missouri.
(Reporting By Lily Kuo; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this