A reporter called me a little while ago, and told me that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot at a public event. She is in critical condition.
I'm going to let others comment on what this means for America. I just want to say what it means to me.
Gabrielle Giffords and I served together on the House Committee on Science and Technology. She was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and I was a member of that subcommittee. Her D.C. office was one floor above mine.
I saw Gabby dozens, if not hundreds of times, during our two years together. And nearly every time that I can remember, she was smiling.
Gabby is one of the most cheerful, charming and engaging people I have ever known. She's always looking on the bright side. She has something good to say about pretty much everyone. Bad news never lays a glove on her. She loves life, and all the people in it.
No matter what is going on in your life, after fifteen minutes with Gabby, you'll feel that you can touch the stars.
Everyone knew that Gabby would have a tough race in 2010. (She actually won with 49% of the vote.) But I always thought that if each of her constituents could spend that fifteen minutes with her, and see what she is really like, then she would win with 99.9% of the vote. (Same thing about Harry Teague of New Mexico, who lost, and a few others that I could name.) You would want her as your Congressman, because you would want her as your friend.
I know nothing about the man who shot Gabby, and what was going through his mind when he did this. But I will tell you this -- if he shot Gabby out of hatred, then it wasn't Gabby he was shooting, but rather some cartoon version of her, drawn by her political opposition. Because there is no way -- no way -- that anyone who really knows Gabby could hate her or hurt her. She is a kind, gentle soul.
My heart goes out to Mark Kelly, Gabby's husband, and the many, many people who love her. Gabby, we don't want to lose you. Please stay here with us.