Giffords causes cheers and tears

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made her much-anticipated appearance at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, bringing the audience to their feet and causing some to wipe away tears.

She was helped out on to the stage by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), a close friend, and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The cheers were so loud Giffords could barely be heard. Delegates shouted "Gabby, Gabby, Gabby" and several, particularly those in the Arizona delegation, were seen wiping away tears.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said she was excited that Giffords was participating in the convention.

"It's so perfect to have her come back for this convention and talk about liberty and justice for all, something she has dedicated her life to," Pelosi told The Hill while walking around the convention arena. "It's wonderful. It's such a spark for the convention."

Arizona delegate Delores Adams called it an "inspiration."

"She's such an inspiration to us all," said Adams, of Phoenix, from her seat in the arena. "She has just come back so strong, and she just keeps coming back."

As she was leaving the stage, Giffords turned and blew a kiss to the cheering crowd, which screamed even louder.

Giffords resigned from Congress this spring to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. She and more than a dozen others were shot at a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., during a district event in January 2011. Six of her constituents died.