Entries in Gabrielle Giffords (39)


Mark Kelly: 'Gabby Is Angry Today'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mark Kelly expressed anger shared by he and his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after the Senate failed to pass the Manchin-Toomey gun background check deal on Wednesday.

"Gabby is angry today, and she's horrified by the decision of a minority of her former colleagues to block progress on this measure," Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, said on Thursday.

Kelly added, "Along with so many parents from Newtown, so many of our former neighbors in Tucson, who were here in Washington this week, Gabby's disappointed, and she's angry, and so am I, but neither of us are deterred."

Kelly echoed the claim Giffords had made in a New York Times op-ed on Wednesday, accusing some senators of "cowardice" and claiming they voted against the background check proposal "out of fear."

Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group run by Kelly and Giffords, is reportedly preparing to release advertisements thanking the senators who voted in favor of the legislation on Wednesday, naming Republican senators Susan Collins and John McCain, among others.

Giffords' op-ed was published on Wednesday and accused the Senate of being afraid of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby, echoing President Barack Obama's frustration.

She derided Senators who may refer to the proposal as a "tough vote" or a "complicated issue," adamant that Wednesday's vote was neither.

"Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress," Giffords said. "To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Have ‘Mystical Connection’ in Photo Shoot

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, ex-astronaut Mark Kelly, have a “mystical connection” that was on display during a recent interview with Vogue magazine.

The couple posed for photographs in their Tucson, Ariz., home while discussing the uphill health battle Giffords climbs every day along with the campaign for changes in gun control laws.

Just over two years after the shooting massacre in a Tucson supermarket parking lot that killed six and wounded 12 others, Giffords and Kelly announced the creation of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS).  Giffords has become a public figure for gun control while still in physical and speech therapy several times a week recovering from a bullet wound that left her with severe brain damage.

“We realized that now is the time.  We have to do something,” Kelly told Vogue.

The political-action committee plans for “common sense” legislation that the couple believes most Americans would endorse, including limiting the size of ammo magazines and a ban on the sale of assault weapons to civilians.  The PAC is also lobbying for compulsory background checks for gun buyers.

The couple attended Tuesday’s State of the Union address in which President Obama called for stricter gun laws.

Their PAC is up against the powerful influence of the National Rifle Association.  However, because Giffords and Kelly both grew up with firearms around them and currently own a gun, they have something in common with the “opposing side” that may be to their advantage.

“We didn’t want to be doing this,” Kelly said to Vogue writer John Powers.  “There are lots of things we’d rather have done.  But sometimes you don’t get a choice.  Gabby is ‘OK, this happened to me.  I want it to count for something.’”

Vogue’s March 2013 issue hits newsstands on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mark Kelly Possible Heir to Gabrielle Giffords' Political Career

Valerie Macon/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of the more dramatic moments of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night was when he said over and over that victims of gun violence "deserve a vote" to thunderous applause.

"Gabby Giffords deserves a vote," the president said as the camera panned to the former Arizona congresswoman, who is spearheading a new gun control push focused on universal background checks.

The man by her side Tuesday night, Giffords' husband Mark Kelly, is her partner in the gun control fight, but now in Arizona the former astronaut is also being seen as a possible new star who could inherit his wife's political career.

Jeff Rogers, a friend of Giffords and Kelly and former chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, told ABC News that Kelly would be "an ideal candidate to take on John McCain's position in 2016."

McCain, who along with Giffords' successor Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), gave Kelly and Giffords his visitor pass for the State of the Union speech, will be 80 when he is up for reelection in 2016.

"There are few other people that would be such a formidable candidate," Rogers said, noting that Kelly would also have his wife's political skills as an asset.  "His wife has the greatest political mind in a generation in this state.  Her smarts and his background and both of their courage coming out in this issue (of gun control)…I think it speaks well of them, putting themselves out there for sane reform of much needed reform of gun laws."

Rogers added that Kelly has been "putting himself out there a lot not just after the Connecticut massacre, but before then," and that he's been a public face in Tucson, Ariz., since the couple moved back in August.  These moves make Rogers think it's possible Kelly "would be interested in pursuing such a thing."

"I think the Senate is the most logical place for him," Rogers said.

Kelly, 48, has said that he is not interested in becoming a politician.

"She's the politician in the family, I'm the space guy," he said in July 2011.

An aide said that Kelly is fully focused on his wife's recovery and running the newly created SuperPAC to push gun control measures called Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The PAC has released its first ad, in which Giffords tells the nation to "take it from me, Congress must act.  Let's get this done."  

The ad is targeting congressional lawmakers with an ad buy that reaches the districts of House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ron Barber, Former Gabrielle Giffords Aide, Wins Seat in Congress After Close Race

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Democrat Ron Barber, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords, was declared the winner today of a tight congressional race in Southern Arizona.

Saturday morning, Barber’s opponent, Republican Martha McSally, called him and conceded the race, a spokesperson for the Democrat told

The hard-fought battle played out in a newly redrawn district in Southern Arizona that covers parts of Tucson and Pima County and all of Cochise County.

McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first female to fly in combat, ran on issues that included cutting taxes, reducing federal regulation and the sanctity of life. Barber touted his Southern Arizona roots to voters and his pledge to help strengthen the middle class.

In June, Barber won a special election in what was then Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, to take over Gabrielle Giffords’ seat following her resignation.

Barber, who is a  67-year-old grandfather, was shot in the thigh and cheek during a meet-and-greet with constituents of Giffords in January of 2011.  Six people were killed, while 13 others, including Giffords, who was hit in the head, were wounded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Charlotte for DNC

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose political career was cut short when she was shot in the head by a deranged constituent, has traveled to North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention.

"I can confirm that Gabby is in Charlotte to attend the convention, and she is excited to be here," spokeswoman Hayley Zachary said after Roll Call first reported she'd made the trip. "She does not have a role in tonight's convention schedule."

Her appearance at the convention could be an emotional lift for the Democrats at the TimeWarner Cable Arena.

It's been a busy month for Giffords and her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelley. On Tuesday they revealed the formation of a political action committee called Gabby PAC.

On Aug. 13, after 17 months at a rehab facility in Houston, Texas, Giffords moved back to Tucson, Ariz., where she continues therapy.

Giffords resigned from Congress in late January, a little more than a year after she was shot in the head during a constituent event in her home district in Tucson.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords Forms Democratic PAC with Husband Mark Kelly

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, announced the formation of a political action committee Tuesday.

The move will enable Giffords and Kelly to accept campaign contributions and financially support like-minded candidates seeking public office.

“We are thrilled to officially launch Gabby PAC,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in a statement. “Gabby PAC will only support candidates who are dedicated to working hard for commonsense, bipartisan solutions that strengthen our communities and our entire country. This commitment to public service over partisanship is what guided Gabby while she was serving the people of Arizona and will be the guiding principle of Gabby PAC.”

Giffords, D-Ariz., resigned from the House of Representatives on Jan. 25, a little more than a year after she was shot in the head during a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona. She has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office, although she and Kelly met with Pope Benedict XVI last month at the Vatican.

Giffords was shot Jan. 8, 2011 by Jared Lee Loughner, who is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty last month to 19 counts stemming from the shooting, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress.

The PAC will be co-chaired by two Democrats -- former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and economist Robert Reich, who was secretary of labor during the Clinton administration.

According to a statement, Gabby PAC will support candidates for public office who share the former congresswoman’s vision of “a better future for America.”

“These candidates are focused on offering responsible solutions to the problems facing our communities, including creating good paying jobs, strengthening our economy, supporting renewable sources of energy, caring for our returning veterans and their families and creating more opportunities for young people,” the statement read. “Gabby PAC will support Democratic candidates who favor working in a bipartisan way to find solutions to our challenges instead of partisanship and discord.”

Last month Giffords left a rehabilitation facility in Houston and moved back to Tucson, where she continues therapy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Giffords’ Successor Holds First ‘Congress on Your Corner’

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images(TUSCON, Ariz.) -- Just days after being sworn in as Gabrielle Giffords’ successor, Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), is carrying on his old boss’ tradition by holding his first “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Tucson grocery store.

Barber plans to meet with his constituents at a Safeway this afternoon, although a different location from where a gunman killed six people at Giffords’ January 2011 event. In total, 13 people were wounded, including Giffords and Barber, who had worked as her aide.

“This event is the first of many I will hold so that I can be accessible to all of my constituents throughout Southern Arizona,” Barber said in a statement. “I will not become isolated in Washington.  My work at the Capitol will be influenced by what I hear and learn here in Arizona.”

The event is scheduled to last an hour and a half.

Barber, who was shot in the face and leg, was sworn in Tuesday after a special election was held to fill the remainder of Giffords’ term. The newest congressman said he plans to run again in November.

Before she resigned on January 25, one of Giffords’ final acts was to finish the “Congress on Your Corner” event that had been interrupted by gunfire one year earlier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Giffords Aide Ron Barber Wins Arizona Special Election

Alex Wong/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Ron Barber, the former district director for Gabrielle Giffords, has won the special election for his old bosses’ seat.

For Barber, 66, victory is bittersweet.  The top aide to Giffords was also injured in the grocery store shooting on January, 2011 -- he was shot in the leg and the cheek.

Giffords endorsed Barber early on, and he was ultimately uncontested for his party’s nomination.  He had strong fundraising, pulling in $1.2 million according to campaign finance disclosures, and was aided by the help of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which spent over $400,000 on ads supporting his candidacy.  However, his victory was far from certain.

The Arizona 8th congressional district -- where Giffords had served since 2006 before resigning from Congress in January -- leans Republican.  The district voted for John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004.  Giffords narrowly defeated Barber’s opponent Jesse Kelly in 2010 by a margin of roughly 2 percentage points -- 49 percent to Kelly’s 47 percent.

Giffords actual presence in the campaign was limited.  She campaigned with Barber over the weekend leading up to the election -- a somewhat late appearance given that up to two-thirds of ballots were expected to be submitted via early voting -- and she was featured on a mailer circulated by the Democratic Party of Arizona.  Nevertheless, the former representative’s emotional and spiritual presence should not be underestimated.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement congratulating Barber on his victory.

“Congressman-elect Barber follows in the footsteps of our extraordinary colleague, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords -- and he has enormous shoes to fill.  Gabby left a legacy of strength, resolve, and independence in the House.  We look forward to Ron Barber continuing in that same tradition, and we congratulate him on a well-deserved victory tonight,” she said.

Barber will have to run again in the general election in November against an unknown Republican.  However, next time he will be running in a different district -- the 2nd congressional district -- as a result of redistricting.  The newly drawn district is considered to be more friendly to Democrats, so it is likely Barber’s seat will be safe come the fall.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Holds Special Election to Fill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Seat

Alex Wong/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizonans in the state’s 8th Congressional District will cast their votes Tuesday in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ retirement.  The race between former Giffords district director Ron Barber and retired Marine Jesse Kelly is expected to be close, and the outcome is anyone’s guess.

The district is located in the southeastern portion of the state and encompasses parts of Tucson.

Barber, 66, has had the endorsement of his former boss from the beginning of the race.  He ultimately ran uncontested in the primary, and  has had relatively strong fundraising, taking in about $1.2 million, according to his Federal Election Commission filings.  Barber was also injured in the assassination attempt on Giffords in January 2011 and has recovered from being shot in the leg and cheek.

Kelly, 30, faced a contested primary against three opponents.  His fundraising has lagged behind Barber’s, raising about $700,000, according to FEC filings.  But the political demographics of the district give the advantage to Kelly.  The district leans Republican, going red in the presidential elections in 2008 and 2004 and boasting a higher number of registered Republicans than Democrats going into the special election.

Republicans, Democrats and respectively aligned super PAC’s have invested in the race.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which oversees Democratic House races, has spent a little more than $425,000 on ad buys, while their Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has spent a little more than $840,000 on media, according to their respective financial disclosures.

The Democratically aligned super PAC House Majority PAC, and the Republican aligned American Crossroads have both waded into the race, as has the Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, and the establishment GOP group American Action Network.

Giffords campaigned for Barber this weekend leading up to the election, appearing alongside him at a get-out-the-vote event Saturday in Tucson.

Polling indicates the race will likely be close.  Many votes, more than 132,000, have already been cast through early voting, which began on May 17.  The district boasts 414,494 registered voters, meaning that more than one-quarter have voted.  State officials expect that early voting could account for almost two-thirds of the total votes.

Whichever candidate emerges victorious from Tuesday’s election will have little time to get acclimated to his new job.  The congressman will have to run again in the general election in November, this time in a new district -- Congressional District 2 -- which is viewed as more favorable to Democrats.  

Before November rolls around though, the then-congressman must face an August primary.  Both men have already filed for the August 28 contest, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabby Giffords Pushes for Barber Campaign in Arizona

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spent the weekend campaigning for her ex-aide, Ron Barber, as he attempts to inherit the vacant seat left by his old boss in the House of Representatives.

On Tuesday voters in Arizona’s 8th District will decide the outcome of the special election between Democrat Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly.

Giffords appeared with Barber today for a final push before the polls open. ABC affiliate KGUN in Tucson reports Giffords and husband Mark Kelly took the stage at a concert rally for Barber to a crowd of roughly 800 people.

Giffords has not had an active role in the campaign as she recovers from the January 2011 shooting at a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Tucson supermarket. Six died that day after a gunman shot Giffords in the head before turning on the crowd. Barber was also wounded in the assassination attempt, being shot in the leg and cheek.

The three-term representative has had a difficult time speaking at length since the incident, and today her husband spoke on her behalf. Holding hands as they walked on stage, the former astronaut told supporters his wife’s choice to resign and focus on her rehabilitation had been a “very difficult decision.”

“You know she worked incredibly hard to first be elected to Congress and then to serve,” he said. “It was her lifelong dream, but she knew that at that point it made sense for her to step down.”

Kelly later said the special-election was about more than selecting the Grand Canyon State’s next representative.

“This is a little about closure,” he said. “This closure on Gabby’s career in Congress, it wasn’t when she resigned in January. I really, truly believe that it is this coming Tuesday.”

Giffords herself spoke briefly at the close of the concert, only offering words of gratitude.

“Thank you for your support. Thank you very much,” she said.

The race between Barber and Jesse Kelly is considered hotly contested. The 8th District leans Republican by a margin of roughly 25,000 voters, making independents key for a Democratic victory. Giffords survived her own reelection battles through her history as a moderate Democrat. As an incumbent, Giffords faced off against Jesse Kelly in 2010 and succeeded with a margin of 2 percentage points.

Barber and Kelly’s campaigns have remained largely civil, with most negative ads coming from outside groups. Republicans have sought to make their push a referendum of President Obama’s national policies, rather than to personally target Barber or Giffords’ local issues.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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