At Ariz. event do-over, admiration for Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords is giving up her seat in the House of Representatives this week to focus on her recovery from the gunshot wound to the head that nearly killed her. But, she made time to finish one event: the meeting with constituents that was interrupted by the assassination attempt on her life in January of last year.

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone was in Gifford's Tuscon, Ariz. office Monday as she met with local citizens.

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Among the people waiting to meet her was Suzi Hileman, who was wounded in the leg during the shooting.

"I got my handshake! I got to tell her how government can work better for people like me - by having more people like her!" Hileman told CBS News.

"What I saw this morning was the bravest thing I've ever seen anybody do -- to put herself ahead of constituents to step aside ... It makes me cry, to step aside for us and to know that she will get better," Hileman said.

Hileman's 9-year old neighbor Christina Taylor Greene was among those killed in the attack last year

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Bill Badger also came to meet Giffords. He was the hero who wrestled the gunman down, even though he himself had a head wound. Badger wore a blue rubber bracelet with Gifford's name. He's worn it every day since the attack.

Badger said that Giffords reached over, took the bracelet off his arm and put it in her pocket. He said he understands why she's leaving the political arena.

"I think it's just like myself, when you come that close to death and your priorities change," he said.

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In one of her final acts before stepping down as congresswoman, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords tours a food bank named for her in Tucson, Ariz.
Giffords announced her resignation Saturday in a prerecorded video message, saying that she needs to continue to focus on her rehabilitation.

"I don't remember much from that horrible day ... But it made me carry on and I will never forget the trust you put in me," Giffords said in the video statement.

Since the accident, Giffords walks slowly and speaks in halting phrases. According to her friend, congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she still has trouble putting complex ideas into words.

"You just have to have some patience and you have to make sure that you give her the time to find the words," Wasserman Schultz said.

A special election will be held to fill the Ariz. congresswoman's seat. Her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelley, said he does not want to run.

Giffords also toured a food bank named in her honor on Monday. She will have at least one more act as a congresswoman: Giffords will attend Tuesday's State of the Union address.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.

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