Obama Visits Giffords Before Memorial Ceremony

Posted January 12, 2011 at 7:29pm

Updated: 8:43 p.m.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday visited Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and four other victims of Saturday’s gun rampage, according to pool reports.

Obama traveled to Arizona for a ceremony at the University of Arizona in Tucson to honor the 20 victims of the shooting.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama spent about 45 minutes with five victims at University Medical Center in Tucson, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. They visited Giffords and her husband for nine minutes. Gibbs said he had no information on the lawmaker’s condition or whether she was able to participate in the visit.

The president also visited two of Giffords’ staffers, Ron Barber and Pam Simon, who were injured in the shooting.

Obama then traveled to the University of Arizona, where he met privately with 13 family members of the six people killed in the shooting. Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl also met with the family members.

The president will address the nation during a memorial ceremony for the victims, which began at 8 p.m. EST.

Giffords’ staff members applauded the bipartisan support in the House on Wednesday for a resolution condemning the violence and honoring those who were injured and killed. The resolution was agreed to by voice vote.

“The outpouring of support from the people of Arizona and Americans across the country has been truly moving,” the lawmaker’s office said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. The resolution before the House today was a further reflection of the best of America — one after another, Members came to the floor, without party labels, in support of those impacted by this tragedy. They honored the fallen, those recovering, and the heroes who responded quickly to save lives.

“The efforts of the Congresswoman’s colleagues have not stopped there — starting with Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi, staff and Members from both sides of the aisle have reached out in words and deeds to help our office in our time of need. Even during the darkest times, our nation’s capacity for kindness and fellowship reminds us of the best in people. To everyone who has expressed well wishes, we offer our most heartfelt thanks.”