Obama: Gabby Opened Her Eyes for the First Time

A surprise revelation by the president as he delivers words of comfort to a nation hurt by the mass shooting in Tucson.

President Obama in Tucson (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)

There was an unscripted surprise during President Barack Obama's much anticipated speech at a memorial service for the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson.

The president revealed that not long after the he and the first lady had visited wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital, "Gabby opened her eyes for the first time." Met with thunderous applause, he added, "So I can tell you she knows we are here, she knows we love her and she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey."

During the rest of the speech, the president eulogized the victims, lauded the courage of those who survived Jared Loughner's rampage at a supermarket last Saturday and thanked the first responders for their efforts.

President Obama came there tonight as healer in chief, and in that vein also addressed the increasingly ugly debate over whether superheated political rhetoric played a role in the actions of a mad man, given that Loughner shot Giffords in the head during a meeting she was having with constituents.

"If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost," he said. "Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle."

The transcript of his remarks as prepared is below. For more details, go to the Washington Post.

Remarks of President Barack Obama -- As Prepared for Delivery

At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

University of Arizona, McKale Memorial Center

Tucson, Arizona