Kelly: Giffords decided to step down a month ago | Gabrielle Giffords
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Gabrielle Giffords

Kelly: Giffords decided to step down a month ago

Both want Loughner 'punished for his crimes'

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords realized a month ago that she was not ready to return to work, her husband said Wednesday, describing her resignation as "the best thing to do."

The congresswoman has not made any decisions but will likely endorse a candidate to replace her in Congress, Mark Kelly told a small group of Tucson reporters via a video conference.

While both he and Giffords have tracked the ongoing legal case against accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner, Kelly wouldn't elaborate on how either think justice would be best served in the case.

"I think I pay a little bit more attention to it than she does," he said. "She's somebody who looks very much into the future. She's concentrating on her recovery."

"We both want him to be punished for his crimes," Kelly said.

The timing of Giffords' decision to resign was unrelated to the anniversary of the shooting or to her recent vesting in a congressional pension, said Kelly, who spoke from Giffords' Washington, D.C., office to four local reporters gathered at her Tucson office.

"She was really motivated to get back to work, that's what she wanted to do," he said. "But, she also knows what's right for her constituents. And when she realized that she was not going to be returning this year, the best thing to do was for her to step down."

"About a month ago, she realized that she is not going to run for re-election and she was not going to be able to return to work here in Washington and in Arizona while she had to focus on her rehabilitation," he said.

"So what that meant to her, that she was not improving, I would say, for lack of a better word, fast enough where she could return to work on the schedule that she wanted," he said.

"So she felt the right thing to do was for her to resign, and allow the folks of Southern Arizona to elect somebody who could get back to work sooner than she could," Kelly said.

Kelly said Giffords isn't committed to supporting any specific candidate yet.

"There’s a pretty good chance that she will endorse a candidate at some point," he said. "She'd like someone similar to her."

"Gabby is interested in having the best representation that is available in CD8 here in Congress," he said.

Kelly again denied that he might run for the seat. "I'm not running for Congress," he said.

"Today was a sad day," the former astronaut said. "She loves representing her constituents in Congress; she loves being a public servant. And she’s going to have to take a break from that for some time."

Giffords' political future is uncertain, Kelly said.

"She's always been interested in education," he said.

"One of her dream jobs in the future — the distant future, this is before she was injured — would be the president of a college," he said.

"Certainly there are a lot of ways that she could serve, and other things that she's interested in. She never planned to be a career politician."

"It is very unlikely that she would have served in Congress for 20 or 30 years. She strongly believes that it's important to give other people an opportunity to do that."

Giffords and Kelly will split time between Houston and Tucson.

"We have a house in Houston, we have a house in Tucson, and we'll go back and forth. But for now, especially during the week, she spends most of her time in Houston. It's going to change over time," he said.

Giffords "has a very bright future. I am very confident that she will serve the public again. We just don't know what that is," Kelly said.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Jan 25, 2012, 8:39 pm
-3 +1

@Dylan Smith

As I stated in another post, I have zero problem with her getting her retirement. Considering what she’s been through she’s certainly entitled to that and more. My issue isn’t with that…my issue is with the crappy way her puppet masters intentionally dragged their feet to get it rather than just ask for it (which would have probably been granted), and that her puppet masters sit there and deny it as if we can’t ALL see what was going on.

Jan 25, 2012, 6:41 pm
-1 +2

I am happy to have been represented by Gabrielle Giffords.  I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

Jan 25, 2012, 5:14 pm
-1 +2

Bret Linden said:


The timing of Giffords’ decision to resign was unrelated to…her recent vesting in a congressional pension, said Kelly…

Yeah, right. I don’t believe that and I never will.

@Bret Linden

Giffords’ pension will amount to $14,790 annually, plus cost of living adjustments, and won’t be available until she reaches age 62.

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Dylan Smith/

Mark Kelly speaks with four Tucson reporters in a video conference Wednesday.