California’s elected leaders and congressional delegation are reacting to the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords and others were shot at a shopping area in her home district this morning, while she held a “Congress On Your Corner” public gathering.
Several Democratic heavy-hitters attended House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s New Year’s celebration for residents of her district on Saturday. Pelosi led a moment of silence at the standing-room-only reception, flanked by fellow congressional Democrats John Garamendi and Barbara Lee.
“Congresswoman Gifford is a great, patriotic American,” Pelosi said. She described Gifford as part “of a new generation of leaders. Brilliant, patriotic… Congresswoman Giffords is a strong fighter.”
Uniformed SFPD officers were stationed inside and outside the event at the Delaney Street Foundation. Suited federal agents stood watch inside the banquet hall. Despite the tight security, the elected leaders in attendance made it clear that they will continue to do their work, despite the potential for violence.
“We have a job to do,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Lee said Giffords “was doing her job, and [we should] not be fearful, but make sure that the practical realities of the security are in place.”
Lee, the outgoing chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, expects this will prompt a review of security for members of Congress. She did not express any fear for her own safety, however, nor did she feel this incident should make representatives less active in their communities.
“I’m confident [that] every member of Congress will continue to be with their constituents, hold our town meetings, and be as responsive as we can be,” Lee said.
As former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was a frequent political target for conservatives and many in the Republican Party. Giffords considered herself a fiscal conservative, or “Blue Dog” Democrat, but found herself on what came to be known as a “target list” published by Sarah Palin. Palin was targeting congressional seats to “reclaim” in the midterm elections. Giffords narrowly won re-election over Tea Party Republican favorite Jesse Kelly.
Fellow Blue Dog Democrat Adam Schiff, who represents the Burbank and Pasadena areas, wrote in a statement that “It’s impossible to be an effective representative without exactly the kind of informal community meetings and exchanges that she was engaged in at the time of the shooting — and that must and will continue for all of us.”
In a statement Cong. Jackie Speier denounced the shooting as “unspeakable and an assault on our democracy.”
At Pelosi’s event the three members of Congress mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and taking pictures, with security and aides always nearby. Lieutenant Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Kamala Harris were also at the event.
“[The shooting is] devastating,” Newsom said. “In this hyper-partisan world we’re living in, where the… extremes are self-evident, it does give, I think, a lot of people pause, and it should.
“It’s just so damning of the democratic process and the principles that make this country unique,” Newsom added. “[It's] the ultimate assault on those principles.”