Conflicting reports on progress of Rep. Gabby Giffords

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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What’s the status of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords? Well, it might depend on who you’re asking.

This week, Giffords’ chief of staff Pia Carusone told the Arizona Republic that the congresswoman is still struggling to express thoughts verbally. Carusone also wasn’t sure Giffords would ever run for elected office again.

“We’d love to know today what her life will be, what her quality of life will be, which will determine whether she’ll be able to run for office…But we just don’t know yet,” Carusone said.

But DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a totally different story. She told Roll Call, “Each time I’ve visited [Giffords], it’s been two or three words, and then more and more complex…For the first time, she said things to me that weren’t just in response to what I said, and I was really surprised.

(Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords speaking again, asks for toast)

Wasserman Schultz offered up an explanation for the differing assessments on Giffords’ progress: that her visits are few and far between, as opposed to Carusone, who is with Giffords almost every day.

Wasserman Schultz said it would be premature to make decisions about Giffords’ political future, but Democrats in Arizona are coming to terms with the fact that Giffords may not be running for her seat in 2012.

Carusone’s interview is much different than what most are used to hearing about Giffords’ progress. Until now, the narrative has been one of a miraculous recovery. Some on Capitol Hill had even been throwing her name out for a run at Arizona’s open Senate seat. A number of congressional colleagues have held fundraisers for Giffords to keep her options open once May 2012 rolls around, the deadline to announce her candidacy.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that Giffords is nearly ready to move to outpatient therapy.

Giffords was shot in the head in January at a public meeting with constituents near Tucson, Arizona. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, killed six people in the rampage, reportedly an attempted assassination of the three-term congresswoman.