Just Starting Third Term, Giffords Known To Be Tough

Host Liane Hansen talks with Congressman Ed Pastor, a Democrat who represents Arizona's 4th District about his colleague and friend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was among those shot when an assailant opened fire in front of a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Congresswoman Giffords was just sworn in to her third term on Wednesday. Back in 2007, she talked to NPR about her first re-election campaign, and what she had learned on the job.

Representative GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (Democrat, Arizona): For me, you know, it's to take the job seriously - but to take yourself far less seriously. I'm doing a job that is an honor to do. But the issues are really what matters. I'm an individual that's a voice from my community. I'm working hard, but not to get too full of yourself and think that you're the only person out there that can do the job.

HANSEN: That's Representative Gabrielle Giffords, speaking in 2007. Congressman Ed Pastor is a Democrat who represents Arizona's 4th District. He's a colleague and friend of Giffords. He's on the line. Congressman, thank you for your time.

Representative ED PASTOR (Democrat, Arizona): Good morning. Thank you very much.

HANSEN: First, our sympathies - and just to ask: The representative was holding a Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson so she could meet her constituents in person. Was that common for her?

Mr. PASTOR: Yes, it was. She believed that that was a very effective way of meeting her constituents. And she had made up her mind. She told me, while we were here this last week, that she was going to be more aggressive in terms of meeting her constituents as well as - she felt she was one of the last voices of a moderate Democrat in the Democratic caucus. And she wanted to ensure that the Democratic caucus paid attention to people like her, represented a district that was a swing district, leaned Republican but yet was able to win.

HANSEN: What was her outlook for this Congress? She narrowly won re-election this past November and...

Mr. PASTOR: Well, she expressed to me that it was going to be - this last race, I think she raised $4 million. And that took a toll on her because - I could see her last year, she was constantly working on the campaign, doing fundraising. And she told me: Ed, in the redistricting, I'm going to need some help because it's getting tougher and tougher.

HANSEN: The motive of yesterday's attack is really still not known. But a lot of concern has been expressed about the angry rhetoric in politics nowadays, and the effects it may have. What's your reaction to that?

Mr. PASTOR: Well, I mean, today you have news 24-7, in some cases not even news. It takes a certain ideology, certain TV channels and radio stations have commentators who are making a living by spewing hate - on both sides of the ideology. You have people who, through the Internet, through their blogs - and tweeters, etc. - and remaining anonymous, were able to almost bring up anything and spew hatred.

And so you can tell, as a member of Congress - I'm sure Gabby did, too - that she could tell when a particular radio jock spewed something because we just instantly began getting those emails over a particular issue. And so this 24-7, constant politicizing of every issue and ideology, it becomes pretty tough because it gets people excited.

HANSEN: Congressman Ed Pastor represents Arizona's 4th Congressional District. He joined us by phone from Washington, D.C. Thank you so much and again, our sympathies.

Mr. PASTOR: Thank you. And you have a good day. And my prayers are with Gabby and her family.

HANSEN: Thank you.

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