- Associated Press - Monday, November 14, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head by a gunman in January, said Monday she will not return to Congress until she is “better.”

In an interview on ABC’s “20/20” program, Giffords struggled to form sentences throughout the interview and replied, “No. … Better” when asked if she wanted to return to Congress.

She moved her hands in front of her mouth as if needing to form the words and said, “Better, better.” Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, completed the thought for her, saying, “She wants to get better.”

There has been wide speculation about Giffords‘ career plans, including whether she would run for Arizona’s open Senate seat.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in her first public interview since she was shot in the head in Tucson last winter, doted on her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, and called him “brave, brave, brave” as she kissed his bald head.

Giffords appears on ABC’s “20/20” show Monday night. It’s her first extended interview since the January rampage that killed six people and wounded 13.

A segment that aired on “Good Morning America” shows a thin Giffords with a broad grin as she talks about Kelly. Her husband replied that the word “brave” was the same one that came to his mind when he thinks of her _ “brave and tough,” he said. Then Giffords, looking directly at Kelly, responds almost in a whisper: “Tough, tough, tough.”

It wasn’t clear from the clip beyond those few words just how fully recovered Giffords is 10 months after the shooting. Interviewer Diane Sawyer said Giffords discusses her career plans and her recovery, and the segment included some video of Giffords‘ progress, from being unable to speak at all, to the point where she was ready to give a television interview.

At one point, Giffords breaks down sobbing while having difficulty relearning to speak and she and her therapist hug. In another clip, she sings into a microphone as part of her speech therapy. And in another she walks holding hands with her husband.

The television interview comes as fellow victims of the shooting came to Washington to testify in favor of a gun-control bill. They said that Giffords‘ appearance represents a major milestone for them as it helps them cope with the trauma they’ve endured over the past 10 months. About a dozen survivors and family members are in Washington lobbying for legislation that would extend criminal background checks to all gun sales and enhance the quality of the FBI’s criminal background checks.

Ken Dorushka, who was shot in the arm as he shielded his wife, says the victims have become like close family members and would watch the broadcast together.

“Any time one of us has a success, it affects all of us and it helps our healing,” Dorushka said.

The Tucson victims described Giffords‘ recovery as a miracle. Nancy Bowman, a nurse who was at the scene, said Giffords‘ recovery is a testament to her drive and courage.

“I don’t think there’s a single one of us who saw what happened to her who could possibly have believed that she could survive. I certainly never dreamed I would ever be able to experience Gabby Giffords on TV speaking to the country.”

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