Obama: Rep. Giffords opened eyes for 1st time since AZ shooting

TUCSON, Ariz. - (AP) - Summoning the soul of a nation, PresidentBarack Obama on Wednesday implored Americans to honor those slainand injured in the Arizona shootings by becoming better people,telling a polarized citizenry that it is time to talk with eachother "in a way that heals, not in a way wounds." Following ahospital bedside visit with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target ofthe assassination, he said: "She knows we're here, and she knowswe love her." In a memorably dramatic moment, the president said thatGiffords, who on Saturday was shot point-blank in the head, hadopened her eyes for the first time shortly after his hospitalvisit. First lady Michelle Obama held hands with Giffords' husband,Mark Kelly, as the news brought soaring cheers throughout thearena. Speaking at a memorial at the University of Arizona, Obamabluntly conceded that there is no way to know what triggered theshooting rampage that left six people dead, 13 others wounded andthe nation shaken. He tried instead to leave indelible memories ofthe people who were gunned down and to rally the country to use themoment as a reflection on the nation's behavior and compassion. "I believe we can be better," Obama said to a capacity crowdin the university's basketball arena - and to countless otherswatching around the country. "Those who died here, those who savedlives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop allevil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another isentirely up to us." In crafting his comments, Obama clearly sought a turning pointin the raw debate that has defined national politics. Afteroffering personal accounts of every person who died, he challengedanyone listening to think of how to honor their memories, and hewas not shy about offering direction. He admonished against anyinstinct to point blame or to drift into political pettiness or tolatch onto simple explanations that may have no merit. "At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all thatails the world at the feet of those who think differently than wedo - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure thatwe are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way thatwounds," the president said. The shooting happened as Giffords, a three-term Democrat whorepresents southern Arizona, was holding a community outreach eventin a Tucson shopping center parking lot Saturday. A gunman shot herin the head and worked his way down the line of people waiting totalk with her, law enforcement officials said. The attack endedwhen bystanders tackled the man, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who is incustody. Obama's speech, by turns somber and hopeful, at times took onthe tone of an exuberant pep rally as he heralded the men whowrestled the gunman to the ground, the woman who grabbed theshooter's ammunition, the doctors and nurses who treated theinjured, the intern who rushed to Giffords' aid. The crowd eruptedin multiple standing ovations as each was singled out for praise. The president recalled how federal Judge John Roll was on hisway from attending Mass when he stopped to say hello to Giffordsand was gunned down; Dorothy Morris, shielded by her husband, butkilled nonetheless, and Phyllis Schneck, a Republican who took ashine to Giffords, a Democrat, and wanted to know her better. Obama spoke to a crowd of more than 14,000 in an arena andthousands more listened on from an overflow area in the footballstadium. About a mile away, at University Medical Center, Giffordslay fighting for her life. Other victims also remained therehospitalized.

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