Gabrielle Giffords Won’t Return to Congress Until She’s ‘Better’

Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:30pm

In her first televised interview since being shot in the head in January, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords indicated that she would not return to Congress until she gets better.

Speaking on ABC News’ “20/20,” the Arizona Democrat was asked whether she would return to Congress.

“No,” Giffords said, struggling for the right words. “Better.”

Host Diane Sawyer asked whether she meant that she would only return if she gets better.

“Yes,” Giffords responded.

Although Giffords answered questions with single words and short phrases, she showed that she has retained her memory and comprehension throughout an arduous rehabilitation program.

The ailing Congresswoman recalled taking her now-husband Mark Kelly to a prison on one of their first dates, feeling like “a zombie” after being shot and even recognizing House Sergeant-at-Arms Wilson Livingood when she returned to Congress in August to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

She expressed excitement about a trip to Africa that she and Kelly are planning and showed grief at recalling learning that others had died the day she was shot at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz.

“I cried. Died. Sad,” Giffords said. “A lot of people died.”

As of the recording of the interview, Giffords was still struggling to communicate, showing just how difficult a full recovery may be.

Kelly, who also appeared in the interview, said he will let his wife decide if and when she will return to Congress.

“I’ll do my best to protect her in whatever she chooses to do,” he said. “It comes back to, I think, what she said: that she’s been beaten. … It’s one of those things that you don’t ever want to feel like you’ve been beaten or taken out.”