Gabrielle Giffords - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Gabrielle Giffords

Incumbent has her own pick-me-up

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Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:06 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Some use coffee, some use soda. For a little pick-me-up, Gabrielle Giffords uses a little bit of lipstick.

Giffords, the Democratic District 8 incumbent U.S. representative who is being challenged by Republican Jesse Kelly in the Nov. 2 election, arrived at the Northwest campaign office with flowers in hand. They weren't for her. They were for Brittni Storrs, her field organizer, who was busy signing in volunteers on her birthday.

Giffords was quick to say "Happy birthday" and give Storrs a hug. Giffords is a self-proclaimed "squeezer" and can't help but give people a hug.

"I go in to give a person a handshake, and I end up giving them a hug," Giffords admits.

On Saturday morning, about 50 volunteers met at the Pima County Democratic Party's office, located on the northeast corner of Ina and Shannon roads, to get materials so they could hand out literature and post signs around Legislative District 26. Welcoming volunteers were Giffords, District 26 Democratic Rep. Nancy Young Wright, and District 26 Senate candidate Cheryl Cage.

Giffords told volunteers she was pleased with all of the work they were doing and encouraged them to get out and talk with whoever they can. She was wearing warmer clothes ahead of later meetings that tend to be in colder rooms.

Along with learning how to prepare herself for the ever-changing climates in town, the native Tucsonan has learned about problem solving.

"I was raised to know that you can learn from others by listening," Giffords said. "And that if you want to solve a complicated problem, you've got to spend time doing the research and understanding what the root cause of the problem is."

Giffords said she also follows her moral compass to do what she knows is right. And she tries to express gratitude for the people who have helped and volunteered for her.

As each volunteer left, some slipped by, while most tried to at the very least say "hi." One of the volunteers was Christine Dayton, who was Giffords' second-grade teacher at Tanque Verde Elementary School in the early '70s.

"I am here because of public school teachers and administrators that really care about the kids," Giffords said in a later interview. "Mr. Kelly wants to eliminate the Department of Education, which would strip over a billion dollars in funding for our schools here in Arizona."

After talking to her supporters and conversing with Cage for a few minutes, Giffords made her way to downtown Tucson for a private function. On the way, she jokingly says she is about to do something no one would ever see Kelly do: put on lipstick.

On a more serious note, she politically distinguishes herself from Kelly.

"I will never vote to privatize Social Security, I understand Medicare is a critical … and an insurance policy for our seniors," Giffords said. "My opponent says that Medicare recipients, using his words, should quote 'get off the dole'."

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