OTR Interviews

Giffords' Husband 'Really Hopeful' She'll Return to Congress

Former NASA astronaut discusses new book and wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords inspiring recovery from shooting


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Mark Kelly said his wife, Gabby Giffords, is doing great. Just 10 months after the Arizona congresswoman was shot in the head she's making an incredible recovery, even talking to her constituents. And now Representative Giffords has just written a new book with her husband. It's called "Gabby -- A Story of Courage Mark and Hope." Mark Kelly joined us to talk about it.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: I have to tell you it's a great book. I enjoyed reading it. It's like you and I spoke before because I actually Know Gabby, and the thing that's always so captivating to me, and you see it right here, that smile. And, it's funny, it's like when I saw the pictures in the book I wanted to make sure she still had that smile.

KELLY: She does. A lot of people got to see that last night. It's as big as ever.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is amazing. And I get a sense in the book how fragile life is. One minute everything is fine and normal, and the next second it isn't.

KELLY: Yes. There's something to be said for having plans, but in an instant, like in Gabby's case and those six other people from southern Arizona that were killed, including Christina Green, things drastically change in a moment.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there's one point in the book, I actually marked it, where you say to your wife the last time you talked to her before the shooting, you said "I'm proud of you, enjoy the new term," and never knowing that everything was going to get turned upside down.

KELLY: Yes, very quickly. It's a big shock to wake up on that Saturday and to be up just a couple hours and get the call saying your wife has been shot. It's a day I will certainly never forget.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who called you?

KELLY: Gabby's chief of staff.

VAN SUSTEREN: What were you doing?

KELLY: Just having a little discussion with my 16-year-old daughter, I think it was something about a boyfriend or a boy issue, and then he called and simply said, "Mark, it's Pia. Gabby has been shot." And, you know, that sent us, you know, obviously -- initially I didn't even -- a few minutes later I didn't even think that the phone call happened, so I had back and look at my cellphone to see if I actually did get that call.

VAN SUSTEREN: So many of us know her who live and work in Washington. She was on "On the Record" a number of times and I remember where I was, I remember sitting down and watching it on the TV and thinking not Gabby, not Gabby.

KELLY: Yes. She loved coming on your show. In Arizona, you know, a lot of her constituents watch Fox and she watches it and she loves coming here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Behind the scenes we would hang around and have girl talk in the makeup room. The minute she walked in, a big smile and then she's on the set talking about things.

KELLY: I think the last time she was on with Michele Bachmann.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, one-on-one side and one on the other and I don't think the camera even reflected it at all. But the book is also intriguing, so many sort of peculiarities, like President Bush 41 came in to see her in the hospital when she was injured. What did she say when she saw him?

KELLY: Let me first say what a great American, and the upper statesman of Houston and of Texas. As soon as we got to Houston he really wanted to see her. She wasn't quite ready yet. But about a month later he came to visit her at a friend as you house and she was tired and leaning over and half asleep, and she couldn't see well at the time but as he got within five weeks she perked up and sat up straight and said, "Wow!"

VAN SUSTEREN: There's a lot about your wife but the viewer's know the congresswoman is very public by your life is fascinating. I loved reading the stuff about being the commander of Endeavour and even the mischief you caused.

KELLY: I wouldn't call it mischief, but there was interesting times.

VAN SUSTEREN: You were told you were speeding, driving a car before.

KELLY: But everybody does that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Not everyone is an astronaut and not everyone is going to be a commander of the Endeavour and catching hell from the NASA manager.

KELLY: You go down to where you are going to travel 17,500 miles an hour, people tend to speed a little bit, and I took a little heat from my boss because of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your last trip, you know, I suppose -- I suspect reading the back it was a little bit trying to decide whether to go or not and it was your decision. But I was glad you went, and I think a lot of Americans are glad you went. Your wife is seriously injured, but I think a lot of us were glad you went.

KELLY: Me, too. I originally had hoped that Gabby would be more integral in that decision. But at the time it was really hard to engage her at that level. But one of the reasons I'm really glad I went is I never would have heard the end of it from her if I didn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how is she? What's the report?

KELLY: She's doing great. She still improves every week. She's really hopeful, I'm really hopeful she will be able to return to work one day. We don't know what that is. Possibly we could see that happening in months. And it's a decision she's going to have to make when she's ready to make it.

VAN SUSTEREN: From what I can sort of piece together, her mind is very quick and very strong, and it's the speech that's not -- that's struggling to keep up with the mind or with the thinking.

KELLY: The biggest disability she has and that she works on every day along with the ability to walk easier, it's her speech. It's coming along all the time when you consider where she was on January 8th, basically in a coma, or a month later she couldn't speak at all and where she is today, it's an incredible recovery and incredible story.

VAN SUSTEREN: But her faculties are good? It certainly seems that way.

KELLY: it seems 100 percent to me. She understands everything, same sense of humor, same attitude about everything. She's been very positive through all of this, and she's getting better all the time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would she recognize me?

KELLY: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: No problem at all?

KELLY: Absolutely. She will be watching this program 100 percent. I explained to her I'm coming on your show and she would like to be here too.