LOUISVILLE, Ky. -The day before she was wounded in a shooting that killed six people, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords sent an e-mail to a friend in Kentucky discussing how to "tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
In the message, obtained by The Associated Press, the Democratic congresswoman on Friday congratulated Republican Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson on a new position awaiting him at Harvard University.
She wrote him: "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
Giffords and Grayson met several years ago at a conference aimed at encouraging cooperation among Republicans and Democrats, and the two have kept in touch since, Grayson said Monday.
"We both care about trying to improve the discourse in politics," Grayson said in a phone interview.
Grayson said he looks forward to having that discussion with his friend, adding, "Now it will be even more meaningful." He called Giffords "one of the nicest people you'll ever meet."
In her message, Giffords promised to visit Grayson at Harvard. She gushed that his new job is "a perfect fit" for him.
Grayson announced Friday he will resign as secretary of state later this month to become director of Harvard's Institute of Politics.
Grayson, a Republican, was seen as a rising political star but came up short in his bid for the U.S. Senate last year, losing to Rand Paul in the Kentucky GOP primary. Paul, a tea party favorite, went on to win the general election.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday called the shooting rampage a "national tragedy," and said it will prompt a thorough review of safety precautions for members of Congress.
"When an elected representative is gunned down in the very act of exchanging ideas with his or her constituents, democracy itself is attacked," McConnell said in his first public comments on the shooting.
At the start of a meeting with a group of students at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelby County, McConnell denounced the shooting as a "heinous crime" that "will not deter any of us from carrying out our duties. A strong democracy depends on a free and robust exchange of ideas."
Later, a student asked McConnell if he felt his safety had been compromised since the Arizona shooting.
McConnell responded that attacks against members of Congress have been rare in the U.S.
"We obviously always think about something like this in the wake of an event like the one that happened Saturday," he said. "We're going to be taking a look, in the wake of this, at the way security is provided and be talking about it."
But he added, "We don't want to get into a situation where elected representatives don't feel comfortable interacting with other people they represent. And I don't think we will end up in that position."