(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose political career was cut short when she was shot in the head by a gunman at a constituent event on Jan. 8, 2011, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night to lead the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
With her longtime friend and colleague, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., by her side, Giffords, in black slacks and a white jacket, fought her way through the oath in a spirited but at times slurred voice, as conventioneers, some in tears, joined her before exploding into applause.
She walked haltingly off with the stage with Wasserman Schultz aiding her progress, but all the time flashing a broad smile as supporters stayed on their feet, chanting “Gabby! Gabby!” and, “Fired Up! Ready to go!” during a prolonged ovation.
“Ok, now Gabby Giffords just made me cry,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted from the floor. “What a testimony to strength, resilience, perseverance and beauty!”
Rumors that the former Tucson, Ariz., congresswoman, who was shot in the head during a constituent event, would appear at the Charlotte convention began to spread Wednesday afternoon, but were only confirmed Wednesday night by a spokeswoman.
It’s been a busy month for Giffords and her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly. On Tuesday, they revealed the formation of a political action committee called Gabby PAC.
On Aug. 13, after 17 months at a rehab facility in Houston, Giffords moved back to Tucson, where she continues therapy.
Giffords resigned from Congress in late January.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Ralph Ellis and Rashard Rose, CNN
Stephan Rockefeller & Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com