Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Shocked over the events in Arizona

by Candice Miller on January 12, 2011


By Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Macomb County Reps. Sander Levin and Candice Miller reacted with shock and outrage on Saturday when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — an Arizona lawmaker they know and admire — was shot and seriously wounded at an event held for her constituents.

Levin, a fellow Democrat, knows Giffords well and traveled to Tucson last fall to help with her tightly contested re-election campaign.

“I admire Gabby and she is a close friend. I join in the prayers for her recovery and those others battling for their lives in this unspeakable tragedy,” said Levin, of Royal Oak, who represents most of Macomb County.

Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, said partisanship never interfered with her relationship with Giffords, whose congressional office is two doors away from Miller’s office. She said they often chatted as they walked to the House floor to attend sessions.

“Gabrielle Giffords is a beautiful person both inside and out and I consider her a friend. I am deeply saddened by this heinous crime. This senseless violence has absolutely no place in our free society,” she said.

According to Miller, Giffords has a very engaging, upbeat personality and she is “not at all” confrontational. The Arizona Democrat certainly could not have angered or agitated the gunman accused of shooting Giffords in the head and firing upon at least nine other people. Among the six who were killed are a federal judge, a Giffords congressional aide and a 9-year-old girl. The attack took place at Gifford’s “Congress On Your Corner” event held outdoors at a Tucson shopping center.

Miller and Giffords served together on the House Homeland Security Committee and worked in tandem on immigration and border issues. They share a fondness for the space program, as Miller’s father was an aeronautical engineer who worked on missile development for Chrysler. Also, Gifford’s husband Mark is a NASA astronaut who has flown on the space shuttle three times.

Giffords has urged Miller to accompany her in April when her husband’s next shuttle launch is scheduled. A similar invitation was extended to Rep. Gary Peters of Oakland County, who serves on the House Science and Technology Committee with the congresswoman.

“I am shocked and horrified at the attack on my friend, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She was doing what all of us in Congress strive to do — meet with our constituents so that we can better serve them,” the Bloomfield Township Democrat said.

Miller said any attempt to provide a bodyguard or security detail for each member of Congress would be a mistaken overreaction to Saturday’s shooting. The congresswoman said she has received hate mail that was “over the top” and twice she reported to the Capitol police “very unsettling” phone calls placed by angry constituents.

But the 22-year-old assailant who attacked Giffords meet-and-greet event could not have been thwarted even if Congress had a security program in place, she added.

Miller, who has held many similar events in her district, said that even the elaborate Secret Service protection provided for the president has occasionally failed to stop a crazed gunman.

“You always have to be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts,” she said. “But … if you’re in public service, you have to be accessible to the public.”

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