Giffords votes in House; colleague says preparations readying for re-election run

NEW YORK (JTA) — The morning after Gabrielle Giffords’ dramatic return to Congress since she was shot, a close colleague said supporters of the Arizona congresswoman are ready to mobilize should she run for re-election in 2012.

“We’re getting her ready to make sure she can run for re-election at the point that they’re ready to decide on that,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Giffords’ closest friend in Congress, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program early Tuesday morning. "Her supporters in Arizona and across the country, her colleagues, are making sure she doesn’t have to start from scratch when she makes that decision."

Wasserman Schultz spoke as Giffords’ staff members were denying a 7 a.m. tweet by CBS News reporting that Giffords, a Democrat, had already decided to run for her fourth term in Congress.

“Congresswoman Giffords is focused on her recovery,” said the lawmaker’s spokeman, C.J. Karamarjin. “No decision has been made about 2012."

Giffords, the first Jewish women elected to statewide office in Arizona, had surprised her colleagues in the House of Representatives on Monday night by appearing on the House floor to vote for the $2.5 trillion debt ceiling package, which passed. She received a standing ovation from the chamber, creating a brief moment of unity after weeks of fractious budget debates.

"The Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight," Giffords said in a tweet before appearing in the chamber, the first tweet made in the first person since she was shot Jan. 8 in an assault that killed six people while she met constituents at a strip mall in her congressional district in Tucson, Ariz.

Giffords walked onto the House floor accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and Wasserman Schultz, to building applause from both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), like Wasserman Schultz a close Jewish friend and a fundraiser for Giffords, rushed over to hug her.

"This is a day for the history books," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "We saved our country from going into default, and my beloved friend and ever-optimistic colleague Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the floor to cast her vote in favor of the future of our nation."

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