Mark Kelly notes Boehner's absence after Gabrielle Giffords' injury
In a new joint memoir by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband Mark Kelly, the former astronaut wonders why House Speaker John Boehner failed to visit his wife in the hospital while he was in Houston for a basketball game.
Giffords has been recovering from injuries sustained in January when she was shot in the head as a gunman opened fire outside of an Arizona grocery store, where Giffords was holding a community event. Six people were killed in the incident, which injured Giffords and thirteen others.
In the couple's new memoir, "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," Kelly points out that Boehner's only contact with his wife had been a "simple get-well card" after the shooting - even though he made a trip to Houston for an NCAA tournament game in April.
"Considering that she was a member of Congress and he was the highest-ranking member, we thought he'd ask to visit Gabby or at least give a call to see how she was doing," Kelly writes in the memoir. "Our only contact with him had been a simple get-well card he'd sent a few days after Gabby was injured."
According to the Hill newspaper, Kelly wondered if Giffords had "scared" Boehner off after she reportedly told Boehner, with a "big smile on her face" while she was in Washington to "stay out of my district" in Tucson.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel defended the speaker's actions, noting in prepared statement Boehner "and his staff have been in close contact with Rep. Giffords' staff throughout this difficult ordeal."
A Republican aide points out that Boehner's office got in touch with Giffords' chief of staff within hours of the January shooting, and that Boehner attended the January 15 memorial service for Gabriel Zimmerman - the Giffords aide who was killed in the shooting. Boehner also attended and helped organize a bipartisan prayer service honoring the victims in January. And when Giffords returned to Congress earlier this year, Boehner greeted her at the door.
Boehner's office says he has been actively working on paying tribute to Zimmerman, despite some frustration among Democrats that a bill aiming to honor the Zimmerman with room in the Capitol Visitor Center has stalled in committee.
"The speaker met with Mr. Kelly in recent weeks about an appropriate memorial for slain staffer Gabe Zimmerman in the Capitol," Steel told CBS News Political Hotsheet.