PHOENIX (AP) — In part, the short video has the feel of a campaign ad: the strains of soft music, the iconic snapshots of rugged Arizona desert, the candidate earnestly engaged with her constituents.
Interspersed with the slick montage of photos and sound, though, is a video close-up of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gazing directly at the camera, offering not a campaign promise but a goodbye, a thank-you message to her supporters in a voice that is both firm and halting.
"I have more work to do on my recovery," the congresswoman says at the end of the two-minute-long "A Message from Gabby," appearing to strain with all of her will to communicate. "So to do what's best for Arizona, I will step down this week."
Arizonans had to know in their hearts that this day was coming.
A bullet to the brain, from point-blank range, is a nearly impossible obstacle to overcome, even for a congresswoman known for pluckiness and fight. Giffords seemed to accept that reality in the video announcing her resignation from Congress, which also included a promise to return one day to her mission to help Arizonans.
The clip, posted to YouTube and on her Facebook page, pastes together 13 sentences into a fluid announcement. Giffords wears a bright red jacket eerily similar to the one she was wearing a year ago when she was nearly assassinated. She looks straight into the camera, almost begging the viewer to listen.
The hopeful message is interspersed with images of the 41-year-old struggling at rehab and walking along a leafy street with husband Mark Kelly with an obvious limp. As Giffords acknowledges in her goodbye, for now at least she isn't up to taking on a re-election challenge.
Giffords' recovery in the months following the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting has been both arduous and remarkable, as she struggled to relearn how to walk and talk during grueling therapy sessions at a rehab facility in Houston. The initial days and weeks after showed Giffords struggling to understand what had happened and to communicate in the most basic forms. She struggled just to learn how to nod, to raise two fingers.
Months later, she's clearly not yet ready for another run for Congress. But she said in Sunday's video that she's not done yet.
"I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country," she said.