"I'm not a Tucsonian, obviously, but I think that having been there for a day before the President got there, you could understandably feel the weight of what had happened. And I think part of that -- I think part of the grieving process is celebrating the lives of those that were lost and celebrating the miracles of those that survived, the -- I think you've all probably by now read the transcript from the two members on the plane last night about their personal experience and -- with the congresswoman in her hospital bed. That -- you know, it's an emotional thing to read," said Gibbs, adding that he was surprised by the applause.
"I read the speech several times and thought that there wouldn't be a lot of applause, if any," Gibbs said. "I think many of us thought that. But I think you -- I think there was a celebration, again, of the lives of those that have been impacted, not just those that -- not just at that grocery store but throughout the country. And I think that if that is part of the healing process, then that's a good thing."
Controversy over how people grieve is nothing new. When Minnesota Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone died shortly before he was to stand for reelection in 2002, his funeral turned into a political rally. The tone deafness of that event backfired on Democrats at the ballot box in Minnesota and perhaps nationally.
But in this case the midterm election is in the rear-view mirror. And while there were cheers and applause, the President's message was one of hope, and he spoke to both parties.