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Giffords' office confirms she'll lead convention Pledge of Allegiance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Gabby Giffords will lead the Pledge of Allegiance on Thursday prior to President Obama's keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, her office has confirmed.

"Gabby will attend the convention tonight and will deliver the pledge of allegiance," spokeswoman Hayley Zachary said Thursday in an email.

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The rare public appearance of Giffords – a former House member who's recovering from head injuries sustained during an assassination attempt 20 months ago – is sure to stir emotions here as Democrats rally their faithful behind Obama.

In her last surprise public appearance, Giffords attended Obama's State of the Union address in January. She also triggered a rare outpouring of bipartisanship when, in August 2011, she came to Capitol Hill to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling and avoiding a government default. In both cases, members of Congress were effusive in their support of their recovering colleague – a display that's certain to repeat in Charlotte on Thursday.

Giffords was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a district grocery store near Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, when a 22-year-old gunman shot her in the head. Six bystanders were killed in the rampage, and 13 were injured, including Giffords. Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty to the crime last month. Sentencing is scheduled for November.

There's been some controversy surrounding Giffords arrival in Charlotte, as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the head of the DNC and a close friend to Giffords, had repeatedly denied that Giffords was in town even as Giffords' office was saying otherwise.

The news that Giffords would lead the Pledge was first reported by Roll Call on Wednesday evening.