Though no one has ruled out the possibility of a re-election bid, Gabrielle Giffords said in her first televised interview since the Arizona shooting that she will not return to Congress until she is better.
When asked if she wanted to return to Congress, Giffords told interviewer Diana Sawyer “No. better.” Her husband retired astronaut Mark Kelly translated, “She wants to get better.”
Giffords, who shot in the head 10 months ago, spoke mostly in short, one- to four-word sentences.
The short sentences are sign of the ordeal that she endured for the last 10 months. On January 8, Gifford and at least 20 others were shot during a constituent meeting at a Tucson, Ariz. Safeway. Six people died. Giffords, who was shot at close range, was initially thought to be dead, but survived.
Through months of surgeries and therapies, Giffords is now able to walk, talk and recall past memories. She has also made key public appearances, returning to Congress in August to urge her fellow representatives to pass a stop-gap measure for the national budget.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said of the Democratic congresswoman, she is "the personification of courage, of sincerity, of admiration throughout the country."
Giffords also attended the launch of Kelly’s valedictory mission into space and a White House award ceremony commemorating his retirement.
However her speech is still limited. Giffords struggled to tell Sawyer in the interview that aired Monday night her intentions for her congressional seat. Images shown in the television special also reveal that Giffords, who was shot through the left brain lobe which controls movement on the right side, can barely move her right arm and leg.
Giffords’ plight has also hindered her legislative record. Although her staff has been working diligently to serve her constituents in her absence, Giffords has missed 98 percent of the U.S. House floor votes.
Despite those challenges, many are hopeful that she will run for re-election. House Democrats Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (NY) and Adam Smith (Wash.) held a March 15 fundraiser for a possible Giffords re-election campaign.
Also her therapists believe that she could do it if she sets her sight on it. Therapists have been surprised and shocked at the congresswoman’s progress in spite of brain trauma and a shattered skull.
“I have great faith that she’ll make a sound decision for her,” said Brain Injury Specialist Nancy Helm-Estabrooks. “So what I’m saying here is if Gabby thinks that she can go back to Congress, she can.”
The filing data is in May, meaning Gifford has six months to recover more and come to a decision.
Either way, her mother, Gloria, says she has a strong message to spread as she continues to recover.
“She’s got a great message. She’s a survivor, you know, and she tells us that every one of us is a survivor,” Gloria Giffords said tearfully. “I think that Gabby’s got a message now that exceeds the political one.”
In the meantime, Giffords has recorded her own message for her Tucson district, which was posted on her Facebook account.
"Hello, this is Gabby Giffords. I miss you, I miss Tucson: the mountains, blue skies even the heat. I'm getting stronger, I'm getting better. It's been a hard year for all of us. Thinking about that day makes me sad. Six people died; six innocent people. So many people hurt. There is lots to say. I will speak better. I want to get back to work. Representing Arizona is my honor. My staff is there to help you. They keep me informed on your behalf. I miss you, I miss home. I'll see you real soon. Thank you."