Who Is Arizona's Rep. Gabrielle Giffords?

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is still fighting for her life after she was shot in the head at a public event in Tucson, Ariz.

While she remains in critical care at the University of Arizona Medical Center, her constituents, colleagues and countless others around the nation have joined in prayer for her recovery.

Yet until this weekend, few outside of the state she represents may have heard of the three-term Democratic congresswoman. But those in her party say Rep. Giffords has been a rising star among them.

Who is Rep. Giffords?

Swept into office with the huge Democrat wave of 2006, party leaders have been looking at her as a possible candidate for Sen. Jon Kyl's seat in 2012 or the Arizona governor's office in 2014.

She's seen as a moderate, a former Republican who switched parties and called herself a Blue Dog Democrat, that shrinking group of centrist to conservative Democrats who've been losing elections as both major parties move to the extremes.

She earned herself a tough reelection battle, though last year with her support of health care reform. Because of that stance, Sarah Palin had put images of gun sights on a target map to identify 20 House Democrats, Palin wanted defeated in November 2010.  Giffords' was among them.

Giffords won a narrow victory that month over a Tea Party-backed Republican.

She's a 40-year-old Tucson native, mother of two, and wife of Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, a space shuttle commander. They wed in January 2007, the same month she took office as a U.S. representative. 

Giffords and nine other national politicians were targets last year of what some might call violent harassment for their support of health care reform. Someone kicked in or shot in a door and window at Giffords' Tucson office just after the House voted to approve the healthcare overhaul in March 2010.

Arizona Gov Asks for Prayers

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer spoke to the media at 5 pm EST Saturday and said that all of Arizona was shocked by the tragedy in Tucson.

"I am just heartbroken," she said. 

The governor said Giffords is more than a colleague, but a friend, and has been a noble servant of the public. Brewer said she both loved and respected Giffords, and they met when Giffords was serving in the Arizona senate and Brewer was in the Arizona secretary of state's office.

The governor ordered Arizona's flags be flown at half-staff in memory of those who have died in the shooting incident.

She asked the people of Arizona and the nation to keep the victims' and their families in their prayers.


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CBN News
Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.