Is Rep. Giffords ready to run for re-election?

CREATED Aug 2, 2011

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Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With the Congressional debt ceiling vote finally done, much of the talk of the nation is still centered on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' surprise return to Washington Monday to cast her first vote since the January 8th shooting.

We haven't heard directly from Congresswoman Giffords since the shooting---we've only heard from her through printed messages and e-mails. 
Her staff is telling us the only firm part of her future is more rehab.

It's only natural to wonder if Gabrielle Giffords appearance is an isolated event or the start of a comeback.  Like all members of the House, if she chooses to run she stands for election a year from November so what happens next is a matter of her recovery, her will, and the will of the voters.

Giffords appearance on the House floor has been widely described as inspiring, and the rare bright spot in a debt ceiling battle that was so grim and angry it pushed public opinion of politicians on both sides lower and lower.

"What she did yesterday was amazing.  It was very inspirational."
That's the appraisal of U of A Professor Kate Kenski.  She is a specialist in political communications---in how the public perceives politicians and the message they convey.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "We've seen some comments to the effect of people who said, you know, I didn't vote for her but I was impressed by what I saw.  Is that the sort of thing that's really going to help her down the road?"

Kenski: "I think it's that, seeing that fortitude, in addition, I think that people are recognizing that we're seeking some balance and with that particular vote and the decision that she made it shows a sense of moderation that a lot of people are craving from whoever the next Representative is going to be."
Of course, whether the next Representative for Congressional District 8 is Giffords, or someone else is up to the voters. 
People we asked were pleased to see Giffords in Congress and able to vote, but they want to be sure she'll truly be able to serve.

Paula Lawson told us, "It was really good to see her.  It really was.  It was heart warming and I was really excited that she was up and around.  It's just been miraculous.  As far as her political future goes, yet to be seen.  I hope she's there mentally in order to serve us but again, it'll take time to tell that."

Craig Smith asked Arlene Carter: "What do you think her political future ought to be at this point?"

Carter replied: "I think she ought to finish out her term and just retire and enjoy life.  Craig: Why do you feel that way? It's hard to say if she's going to be all there mentally after this accident you know?"

Until yesterday we'd only seen Giffords since the shooting in still photos.  Now we've seen her on video, but only those close to her know how well she's able to express herself.

Kate Kenski says that's probably the next proof of progress voters will want to see.