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Obama greets Giffords with big hug at State of the Union
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Obama greets Giffords with big hug at State of the Union

  • Giffords is embraced by President Obama before the State of the Union.
    CNN screengrabGiffords is embraced by President Obama before the State of the Union.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was greeted with applause and a tight hug from President Obama before his State of the Union on Tuesday.

Shortly before, her office confirmed that she would be formally resigning from the House on Wednesday.

Giffords, dressed in her iconic red, was flanked by U.S. Reps. Raúl Grijalva, D-Tucson, and Jeff Flake, R-Mesa, as Obama made his way through lawmakers gathered to hear his annual address to a joint session of Congress

Obama stopped to greet Giffords and gave her a strong hug lasting several seconds, rocking her back and forth as the audience applauded.

Earlier, Giffords received a standing ovation as she walked onto the House floor.

She waved to her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who sat in the balcony with first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. She smiled and at one point put her hand to her mouth, tears in her eyes, as she acknowledged the applause.

Giffords' mother, Gloria, also attended the speech at the Capitol.

At last year's State of the Union, which Obama gave not long after the Jan. 8 shootings, Grijalva and Flake left an empty chair between them in Giffords' honor.

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