Top 10 Political Stories for 2011: Page 3 of 11

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GABRIELLE GIFFORDS

The central character in a story at once horrific and inspiring, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was almost killed in January, yet rallied so impressively in the months afterward that she was able to return, albeit briefly, to cast a vote on Capitol Hill.

Giffords was shot in the head during what should have been a routine appearance with constituents near Tucson, Ariz. on January 8. Six people died in the attack, for which the sole suspect is 23-year-old Jared Loughner.

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The shooting spurred calls, including one from President Obama, for a more civil tone in the political world.

The Giffords shooting also seemed to diminish the standing of former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska). An earlier decision by Palin to publish a map with crosshairs over the districts of “targeted” Democrats, including Giffords, in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, attracted much unfavorable comment.

Giffords returned to Congress for the first time in early August, casting a vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling.

Here are The Hill’s choices for the 10 most important political stories of the year:

Bin Laden | Giffords | Dissent
Message? | Economy | GOP's reign
Reid & McConnell | Debt ceiling | The wire | GOP candidates

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