During the Democratic National Convention (DNC) back in July, former House representative Gabrielle Giffords took center stage on behalf of Hillary Clinton. At the time, she touted Clinton's commitment to ending gun violence, giving an emotional speech that was clearly inspired by her own personal experience. Now, two months later, she's still cheering Clinton on, but not from center stage. Rather, Giffords will watch Monday's debate from a Democratic gathering in Florida.
In July, Giffords took the Philadelphia convention stage on the eve of Clinton's official acceptance of the nomination. She was introduced by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, but she walked across the stage and approached the podium with little to no assistance — a noteworthy feat for the former congresswoman. As she noted in her speech, she still suffers from physical limitations caused by a gunshot wound she suffered in 2011. She was shot in the head in an alleged assassination attempt during a public appearance in her home state of Arizona. Since that time, Giffords has become an important spokesperson for gun control legislation, and a powerful ally for Clinton.
"Speaking is difficult for me," Giffords said at the DNC. "But come January, I want to say these two words: 'Madame President.'"
According to several reports, Giffords did not attend Monday's first presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York. Instead, Giffords reportedly attended a debate watch party hosted by the Human Rights Campaign in Orlando, Florida. Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, also attended the Orlando party.
The duo was in Orlando — and not New York — for a good reason. Earlier on Monday, Kaine and Giffords visited Pulse, the nightclub where 49 people were killed in June, in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Kaine and Giffords, along with Kelly, left flowers at the site of the tragedy and looked over the dozens of other items left there as tributes to the victims.
Ultimately, it probably doesn't matter much whether Giffords is at the debate or watching elsewhere. She has become a strong voice for Clinton's campaign no matter where she speaks. For instance, when Trump suggested removing Clinton's security detail and exposing her to violence, Giffords rushed to her defense. She and Kelly released a statement that called Trump's comments "reckless" and "irresponsible." The consequences of the gun control debate is something that Giffords knows more intimately than anyone should have to — and her loyalty clearly remains with Clinton no matter where she travels.