By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) - Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly wounded in a shooting rampage three years ago, appeared to leave the door open for a possible future run for public office in a television interview that aired on Thursday.
The Arizona Democrat was shot in the head on January 8, 2011, when a gunman opened fire at a congressional outreach event in Tucson, killing six people and wounding 13 others. She resigned from office a year later to focus on her recovery, only to see her political stature and popularity soar.
Asked by NBC "Today" show journalist Savannah Guthrie if she would consider ever returning to public office, Giffords, 43, replied: "A little bit later, a little bit later."
She then added: "Maybe, maybe."
The remarks came in an interview marking the three-year anniversary of the shooting rampage that nearly took her life. On the anniversary, Giffords went skydiving in southern Arizona. Guthrie reported the jump.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday, Giffords said that three years after the attack she still struggles to speak, her eyesight is "not great," and her right arm and leg have been "paralyzed." But she said she was beginning to gain movement in the arm.
She appeared to struggle to find her words during the interview with Guthrie and said it was "awful" to not be able to communicate as she once could.
"You know the times in a day when you might have a hard time remembering a word?" Giffords' husband, retired astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, asked Guthrie. "That's what Gabby has to work with, but magnified."
Despite her disabilities, Giffords said her outlook on life was "pretty good" and "optimistic." She said she hoped to become fluent in Spanish again and to re-learn to play the French horn.
She has focused on fighting against gun violence since leaving office, and has called for strengthened and expanded background checks for gun purchases in the United States and for making it illegal for stalkers and domestic abusers to buy firearms.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jonathan Oatis)