Wednesday, January 12, 2011
9:55 p.m. Major Garrett reports on the members of Congress in the room when Giffords opened her eyes. "It was like witnessing a miracle," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told CNN.
9:35 p.m. Jason Dick says that the music now playing is John Lennon's "Imagine."
9:34 p.m. Here are tonight's total attendance numbers: The total number of attendees is 26,172. There are 13,172 at McKale Memorial Center, and 13,000 at Arizona Stadium, according to the Universtiy of Arizona.
9:29 p.m. If you don't feel like going through the whole live blog to see what Obama said, check out this article from National Journal.
9:26 p.m. Our Susan Davis tweets: "I'm gonna refer to tonight as Obama's 'Bill Cosby Speech.' Because tonight he was like America's reassuring dad."
9:18 p.m Obama ends his speech with this line: "May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America."
9:16 p.m. Obama ends his speech by dedicating it to young Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old who lost her life. "I want to live up to her expectations," he said. "I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations." To this he gets a thunderous applause. "If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit."
9:11 p.m. Another jab at the state of political discourse while elevating the importance of the lives lost: "If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle."
9:03 p.m. Recognizing that tragedy calls all of us to examine our own lives, Obama says, "We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others."
9:03 p.m. Obama addresses the issue of polarizing language. He does not lay blame on either side, but only says we need to make sure we are using language that heals, not wounds: "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 that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do -- it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."
9:01 p.m. Obama says he does not accept Hernandez's assertion that he is not a hero. "Daniel, you may deny it, but we've decided you are a hero," Obama says.
8:59 p.m. The news of Giffords opening her eyes ("She knows we are here," says Obama) was not part of the prepared remarks.
8:56 p.m. Obama says that Giffords has opened her eyes for the first time: "Right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues from congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time." The crowd goes WILD.
8:54 p.m. National Journal's Matt Cooper tweets: "I was in Oklahoma City at the memorial in 1995. It was eerily silent. All you could hear were the sobs and the speakers." Clearly, this is a different kind of memorial: The crowd keeps bursting into cheers.
8:50 p.m. As expected, the speech begins with a call to look forward, but also a remembrance of the victims of the shooting. Obama speaks about John Roll, the "hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit." He speaks about George and Dorothy Morris -- “Dot” to her friends -- a married couple who "did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon."
8:48 p.m. Obama calls "Congress on Your Corner" an updated version of government "of and by and for the people."
8:46 p.m. Obama: "There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through."
8:45 p.m. Obama says: "I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow."
8:44 p.m President Obama takes the podium to standing ovation. The cheers keep coming. He doesn't smile.
8:42 p.m. Attorney General Eric Holder goes with the second Bible reading in a row. He reads from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. With these readings, the tone has become a bit more somber. Holder reads: "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal wait of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
8:41 p.m. More than 14,000 people are estimated inside the arena, and an overflow crowd of 10,000 outside, according to a White House pool report.
8:40 p.m. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano riled up the crowd just by being there, since she is the former governor of Arizona. "We miss you!" someone in the crowd shouts. She reads from the book of Isaiah: "Comfort, yes, comfort, my people, says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her that her warfare is ended."
8:34 p.m. Gov. Jan Brewer says: "There is no way to quantify the loss of a fine public servant like united states district court Judge John Roll.... There is absolutely no measure in the idea that the void someone like Gabe [Zimmerman] leaves behind." But she says we will go "forward unbending, unbowed."
8:27 p.m. Daniel Hernandez rejects the term hero for himself, but says that the first responders and Giffords are the real heroes. He also says, "On Saturday, we all became Tucsonians. We all became Arizonians. And above all, we all became Americans."
8:23 p.m. Shelton gets sustained applause when he mentions University of Arizona student Daniel Hernandez, who is credited with acting heroically during the Saturday shootings.
8:22 p.m. University of Arizona President Robert Shelton says he is amazed that Tuscon manages to be a small college town despite having about 1 million people living there. He also said, "Tonight, we have a chance to pray for those who were wounded, to remember those who were lost, and to reaffirm, reaffirm our commitment to each other. Representative Gabrielle Giffords is a good friend of mine, as she is of almost everyone in this community."
8:20 p.m. During the National Anthem, there is a close-up shot on most television channels of President Obama hand over his heart singing along.
8:14 p.m. Carlos Gonzalez, who is part Mexican and part Native American, gives a Native American prayer to a crowd that he admits is larger than usual for him. "Please, after hearing my blessing and my prayers, let us work towards harmony, towards wholeness and balance," he says. The prayer calls for guidance, energies of the family, honor for our ancestors, the ability to use humor, to be humble, and to bless the families of those who have lost their loved ones.
8:05 p.m. Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man'' conducted to begin the rally.
8:03 p.m. President Obama and the first lady have entered to a loud applause.
8:02 p.m. Robert Gibbs told reporters that the Obamas spent 45 minutes at the hospital, visiting Giffords; two of her staffers, Ron Barber and Pam Simon; and two other, unidentified victims. The Obamas, with Sens. McCain and Kyl and Attorney General Holder, met with 13 family members of the deceased.
7:59 p.m. The crowd didn't show quite as much enthusiasm for the McCains, according to Jason Dick: "John and Cindy McCain get cheers but not too loud.... Overheard in press box: 'I don't think this is John McCain's house.'"
7:54 p.m. The crowd continues to be excited, says Jason Dick. First Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., get cheers, then former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gets cheers, and then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi got "LOUD cheers. Very loud."
7:50 p.m. Spotted. Jason Dick that both Arizona senators, Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl, as well as GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, are at the McKale Center.
7:46 p.m. Free swag alert! Jason Dick tweets: "Each seat at the McKale Center comes with a blue 'Together We Thrive: Tucson and America' t-shirt. 100% cotton. Preshrunk. Made in Haiti."
7:38 p.m. Here is a link to a live streaming of the remarks that will begin at 8 p.m.
7:34 p.m. The crowd seems to be in high spirits according to our Jason Dick who reports another couple rounds of cheering. Dick says: "Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik gets some loud, loud cheers. Waves to crowd. Daniel Hernandez, who applied first aid to Giffords, gets a big cheer."
7:15 p.m. National Journal's Jason Dick reports from the scene at the McKale Center, saying that the trauma surgeons just entered into the area and the crowd went wild.
7:12 p.m. Hotline's Reid Wilson tweeted: "Gibbs: Obama will "reflect on how all of us might best honor [victims'] memory in our own lives.""
7:09 p.m. Mark Knoller of CBS tweeted: "During hospital visit, Obamas spent 9 minutes with Rep. Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly."
7:01 p.m. At the top of the hour Hardball on MSNBC and John King USA on CNN begin by mentioning Sarah Palin's use of the term "blood libel." Fox News does not.
6:51 p.m. Earlier this evening, CNN reported that the father of Jared Loughner had asked his son about a black bag he was holding on the morning of the shooting. Jared reportedly mumbled something and drove off. His father tried to catch up to him but figured he probably had driven off to the desert.
6:46 p.m. National Journal's Jason Dick tweeted: "Even the VIP line into McKale Center isn't moving."
6:39 p.m. Rep. Jim McDermott speaks on MSNBC after the arrest of a California man on Wednesday for making death threats against him and his family. “You can’t back down’’ or be intimidated by potential assailants, the Washington Democrat says.
6:21 p.m. The Pima County Sheriff's Department has released a statement saying that at the request of Judge John Roll's family there will be no media presence at the Rosary or funeral.
6:17 p.m. From pool report: The Obamas will see members of the victims’ families at the site of the Memorial Service, before it begins, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
6:01p.m. President Obama is on his way to visit Giffords in the hospital according to a pool report from the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler. Here is the report:
5:25 p.m. The number of people hoping to attend tonight's “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America” event with President Obama has exceeded the capacity of McKale Memorial Center, University of Arizona news reports. The center is supposed to hold about 14,000. The overflow, they say, will likely be seated in Arizona Stadium, where a video of the event will be broadcast on the scoreboard's big screen. The video also will also be streamed live on the Arizona Public Media website.
More event details can be found here.
5:20 p.m. Court officials confimed earlier today that the trial of Jared Lee Loughner was assigned to Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California.
4:10 p.m. Florida Rep. Tom Rooney on MSNBC: “We’re still really stuck I think in the past when it comes to it how we treat and how we interact with those who might need mental health help.”
3:23 p.m. Sarah Palin got some more viral buzz this afternoon when her controversial video statement got put in password-only territory on Vimeo. But "BreakingNews" just tweeted: “CORRECTION: Palin libel video remains accessible at http://vimeo.com/18698532."
3:00 p.m. "Erad," the online avatar for the video game Earth Empires, was confirmed by Reuters to be Loughner. Past posts such as, "Wondering why I feel hate," could provide insight into Loughner's troubled mental state.
3:04 p.m. NBC News's Michael Isikoff reports on Loughner's failed attempt to enlist in the Army, gaining insight into past legal problems:
"In December of 2008, [Loughner] tries to recruit with the Army," Isikoff reported. "He's interviewed as part of the standard recruiting process, and he admits to being a drug user. In fact, I've been told by his recruiter that he used marijuana over 100 times. Now, in and of itself, that was a barrier for him entering the Army. The recruitment process stopped right there; he never even got to the drug testing phase. One question that's being asked here is is that information that the Army should have passed along to, say, the FBI, which is charged with doing background checks and habitual drug users are denied the right to buy guns. The Army says there's -- if somebody is not a member of the military, they have no right to pass along that information. But people are raising questions about that."
2:31 p.m. As lawmakers continue to debate about what the Tucson tragedy means for security, the U.S. Department of Justice just issued the following press release on threats made to another member of Congress:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2011
PALM SPRINGS RESIDENT ARRESTED FOR MAKING DEATH THREATS AGAINST WASHINGTON CONGRESSMAN JIM McDERMOTT
Defendant Left Expletive-Laden, Threatening Voice Mail Messages Following Tax Cut Debate
CHARLES TURNER HABERMANN, 32, of Palm Springs, California, was arrested this morning after being charged by federal criminal complaint with threatening a federal official. HABERMANN is alleged to have made two expletive-laden, threatening phone calls to the Seattle office of Congressman Jim McDermott on December 9, 2010. In the first call recorded on the office answering system, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott, his friends and family. In the second call HABERMANN says he will hire someone to put Congressman McDermott “in the trash.” HABERMANN was interviewed by the FBI on December 10, 2010, regarding the calls to Congressman McDermott, and another threatening call made to a California Congresswoman. HABERMANN is expected to make his initial appearance today on the 3:00 p.m. calendar in federal court in Riverside, California.
“We are blessed to live in a country that guarantees and protects the freedom to disagree with our government and speak our minds. That protection, however, does not extend to threats or acts of violence. Those actions are intended to silence debate, not further it. They instill fear not just in the immediate victims, but in many who might hold the same views or take the same course. Such threats are crimes, and the individuals who make them must be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
In the voice mail messages HABERMANN stated he had seen Congressman McDermott on television. In the messages he disparages and threatens Congressman McDermott and other Democrats for their views on tax cuts and unemployment insurance. On the voice mail messages HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott in an effort to impede, intimidate and interfere with his vote on the tax cut proposal in December 2010.
HABERMANN was investigated in March 2010, for similar conduct involving threats to a California Assembly Person. In that instance, HABERMANN went to the Assembly Person’s office to discuss the health care bill and was escorted out. Following the office meeting, HABERMANN left two threatening voice mail messages. HABERMANN was interviewed by the California Highway Patrol, and was issued a warning about his threatening conduct.
Threatening a federal official is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.
2:03 p.m. Reports that police officers were frequent visitors to the Loughner household prior to the shooting were confirmed by MSNBC, but all were unrelated to Jared Loughner, with the exception of a minor complaint.
2:00 p.m. "Hundreds" are already in line for tonight's memorial service in Tucson, MSNBC reports. President Obama's address at the service will begin at 8 p.m. EST and will last 15 minutes. The network also says Obama has made private calls to the victims' families. National Journal has photos of the Obamas preparing for their trip to Arizona.
1:00 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner's prepared remarks for today's bipartisan prayer service, courtesy of press secretary Michael Steel:
On the morning of January 8, 2011, an act of unspeakable violence rocked the morning air in Tucson, Arizona, where our colleague, Gabby Giffords, was busy with her staff conducting the business of the people. The senseless assault claimed the lives of six of our fellow citizens – including that of Gabe Zimmerman, a congressional staffer who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and died while well and faithfully discharging his duties. It left several more citizens, including Gabby, and two of her staff – Ron Barber and Pam Simon – fighting for their lives. Our Nation mourns for the victims. It yearns for peace. And it thirsts for answers. As our Nation struggles to comprehend this act of savagery – this fearful assault on all of our sacred responsibilities – it speaks well of our institution that its members have reacted not with a torrent of accusations hurled at each other, but courageously, with a collective embrace – the embrace of brothers, sisters, and countrymen. It is in that spirit that we assemble here today. Joining together in prayer can be a source of solace. It can also be a source of healing, strength, and resolve. As our National Motto indicates, our great and humble Nation places its trust in God. And having placed its trust in the Almighty, our Nation has secured the blessings of liberty against the agents of chaos, madness, and evil. No assailant's bullet – no twisted act of violence or cruelty – can silence the sacred dialogue of democracy. To Father Coughlin – Leader Pelosi – Leader Cantor – members of the majority and minority leadership – and to all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and their spouses – thank you for being here today. Let us now join together in prayer for the souls of the fallen, the recovery of the wounded, and the healing of a nation.
12:16 p.m. Family members of two staffers who were shot and wounded Saturday made remarks at the press conference.
The family of Ron Barber, Giffords's Tucson district director: "We would like to let you all know that my dad, Ron Barber, is doing well after his second surgery yesterday morning, and he has been very alert since his six-hour surgery on Saturday. He was able to see his four grandchildren on Monday, which gave him great pleasure. We expect him to be released from the ICU on Thursday. On behalf of my dad and the rest of our family, we would like to give our heartfelt thanks to the community as a whole for the overwhelming support we have received.... Dad is so deeply saddened by the loss of his friend and fellow staff member Gabe Zimmerman and longtime friend Chief Judge John Roll. Our thoughts and prayers are with the other victims and their families during their recovery."
The family of Pam Simon, community outreach coordinator for Giffords, read a statement from Simon: "I am incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support of my family, friends, coworkers, and community. The wounds inflicted are healing, thanks to the amazing care of the doctors and staff here at the University Medical Center.... The deep wounds and needless loss of life, severe injury of coworkers and community members, and sadness over this act of violence will take much longer to heal. I am touched and encouraged by the tremendous caring and coming together of the community. I believe in the days and weeks ahead that we will work together to solve challenges and promote healing. I ask for your continued prayers for Gabrielle, my congresswoman and my friend, and that she has a full recovery. She is a leader who's truly needed in this nation. My special thanks to my wonderful husband, Bruce, for his support and for my children for being here throughout this time."