WASHINGTON -- A former aide says Gabrielle Giffords has been working for the past week on the statement she delivered today to a Senate hearing on gun violence.
Giffords spoke just 80 words from a prepared statement, urging lawmakers to be "bold" and "courageous" in confronting gun violence. The former congresswoman is continuing to recover from the shooting more than two years ago in Tucson that left six people dead.
She spoke slowly, pronouncing each syllable with deliberation. She said, "Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying." Giffords told senators, "It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act."
Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, then gently guided her from the table, before returning to deliver his own testimony. He told the panel that his wife's "gift for speech is a distant memory." He said, "She struggles to walk, and she is partially blind."
Giffords' former chief of staff says the former congresswoman didn't decide to go through with today's appearance until last night. Pia Carusone says Giffords "made such progress recently that she felt she was up for it."
After delivering the statement, Giffords and Kelly went to the White House and met privately with President Barack Obama.