As Giffords Recovers, Her Team Perseveres Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to attend the launch of the space shuttle in Florida this week. Her husband will be at the controls. And while Giffords' recovery from being shot in the head in January continues, her office keeps the business of her district going.
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As Giffords Recovers, Her Team Perseveres

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As Giffords Recovers, Her Team Perseveres

As Giffords Recovers, Her Team Perseveres

As Giffords Recovers, Her Team Perseveres

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135745207/135745860" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to attend the launch of the space shuttle in Florida this week. Her husband will be at the controls. And while Giffords' recovery from being shot in the head in January continues, her office keeps the business of her district going.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

NPR's Ted Robbins reports that the trip to Cape Canaveral is a milestone for her recovery and for her staff.

TED ROBBINS: Her trip this week to watch Endeavour's launch is personal, but communications director C.J. Karamargin says, in a way, it's also Giffords' first professional outing since she was shot.

KARAMARGIN: As the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, she has become among NASA's most ardent champions in Congress.

ROBBINS: Of course, not being present, she cannot vote or introduce legislation. Although a couple of weeks ago, Texas Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican colleague of the Democrat Giffords, visited ranchers in rural Arizona, then introduced a bill on Giffords' behalf to improve emergency communications along the border. So business goes on in the Washington and the Tucson offices.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

JONI JONES: Hi, Bernadette. It's Joni. I just want to let you know that your Native American studies certificates are ready.

ROBBINS: Office manager Joni Jones is constantly on the phone, this time arranging to deliver a stack of certificates congratulating Native American students graduating this spring. Instead of Giffords' signature, Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone, has signed them.

ROSS ZIMMERMAN: Hey.

JONES: Hi, Ross.

ZIMMERMAN: Hi, Joni.

JONES: How are you?

ROBBINS: Ross Zimmerman walks into the office carrying lunch for Joni Jones. Zimmerman's son, Gabe, who was Giffords' outreach director, was killed on January 8th.

ZIMMERMAN: I stop here pretty much every day. I make a point of it. They like it. I like it. Right?

ROBBINS: But Michael McNulty says her personality is intact.

MICHAEL MCNULTY: The way her face lights up when she sees you takes you straight back to when it was the Gabby Giffords we all know.

ROBBINS: McNulty is Giffords' campaign chairman. He visited her a few days ago at TIRR Memorial Hospital in Houston where she's in rehab.

MCNULTY: Her powers of perception seem almost unimpaired. As you're talking along, if you stop and say, you know, are you following me? She gets very frustrated and say yeah, yeah, I understand. Keep going.

ROBBINS: That doesn't mean Giffords is ready to contemplate running for office again. The persistent rumors of a Senate campaign or even another congressional campaign are just that, rumors. Her staff, her family, her friends are practicing patience and living with uncertainty.

MCNULTY: Nothing could be more accurate. We have no idea how this is going to come out.

ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

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