President Obama this afternoon appeared briefly in the State Dining Room to make remarks on the shooting today of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others at a town hall meeting Giffords was hosting in her district.
Giffords was shot in the head and is in critical condition, but it appears she will recover. Six others shot at the event have died.
Here is the pool report describing Obama’s statement:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is battling for her life in an Arizona hospital, POTUS said during three minute speech in the White House’s state dining room.
POTUS began his remarks at 4:46 p.m., wearing a dark blue suit, dark tie and speaking under the portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated on April 14, 1865. “We are still assembling the facts,” POTUS said.
“It’s not surprising today Gabby was doing what she always does,” he said, “Listening to hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.”
POTUS learned of the shooting from John Brennan and Jim Messina a little after 1:20pm Eastern, per a White House backgrounder. He has since spoken with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, House Democratic and Republican leaders. FBI Director Mueller has been dispatched to Arizona under POTUS’s direction, POTUS said.
“Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine,” he said. “She was not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring she is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents.”
POTUS, who read his remarks from paper, noted that at least five have died – including a girl barely 9-years-old and federal Judge John Roll.
“What Americans do in times of tragedy is to come together and support each other,” POTUS said. “I know gabby is as tough as they come and I’m hopeful she’s going to pull through”