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Politico: 'What would Gabby want?'


February 9, 2011- On Monday, when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s breakfast was delivered to her Houston hospital room, she asked for something else: toast.

It might not seem like much, but one month after a failed assassin fired a bullet into her brain, such seemingly small milestones in her long recovery have helped sustain Giffords’s inner circle — family, friends and aides — as they cope with last month’s Tucson massacre by sharing in her progress and continuing to serve her constituents. Giffords is now eating three meals a day — as her husband, Mark Kelly, announced Tuesday on Facebook — and as she did Monday, speaking is the latest sign of progress.

Over the past month, her aides have been forced into one of the worst crisis management tests ever faced by a congressional office.

It’s hard to imagine any small staff dealing with such a sprawling, massive and sustained ordeal — and the staffers have done it in the absence of their leader and three of their colleagues, one of whom was killed and two of whom have not returned to work since being shot.

Even the outpouring of support can be a logistical nightmare: Giffords’s district office has logged nearly 20,000 contacts in the month since the rampage.

They deal with these challenges by answering the oft-repeated question: “What would Gabby want?”

At the center of the entire Giffords operation is her 30-year-old chief of staff, Pia Carusone, who has been running Giffords’s Tucson and Washington offices from spartan side rooms at Houston’s TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital with her BlackBerry, a Mac computer and a tiny, 3-by-5-inch reporter’s notebook containing four weeks’ worth of daily to-do lists. She cadged the notebook from an FBI agent in Arizona when she realized she needed to keep track of all her tasks

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