(CNN) – On the eve of the Arizona special election to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic candidate Ron Barber reaffirmed his support for President Barack Obama on Monday, despite distancing himself from the president throughout much of the campaign.
"When it comes to the November election, I will support the president. I will vote for him, because quite clearly his policies will benefit the middle class much more than his opponent’s," Barber said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
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A former Giffords aide, Barber was critically injured during last year's mass shooting that killed six and injured 13 others, including Giffords, who received a gunshot wound to the head. She resigned in January, about one year after the shooting.
In Tuesday's election–the winner of which will finish the remainder of Giffords' term this year–Barber faces Republican opponent Jesse Kelly, a former Marine and Iraq war veteran who challenged Giffords in 2010 but came up 4,000 votes short.
The 8th Congressional District covers Tucson and parts of Southeast Arizona. Due to the district's largely Republican leanings, Democrats tend to veer more toward the middle while campaigning.
Barber, himself, faced pushback after declining to answer whether he would vote for the president during a debate earlier this cycle. His aides soon clarified and said the candidate would support the president.
However, Barber on Monday repeatedly referred to the criticism as a diversion driven by his Republican rival.
"I think that's a distraction that my opponent has tried to use to move us away from what's really important to the people of Arizona," he said.
While special elections during the summer generally drum up low turnout, the Arizona race has gained high-profile status, given the attention surrounding Giffords and because the race marks the final Congressional election prior to November.
Little polling has been done, but political observers expect it to be a tight finish between Barber and Kelly.
Sitting alongside Barber, Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, also weighed in on the race Monday, saying the congresswoman personally requested that Barber run for the office.
"At the end of the day, Gaby turned to Ron and basically asked Ron to do this," Kelly said. "It was absolutely the right decision."
Giffords and her husband, who both now live in Texas for her recovery, traveled to Arizona this weekend to campaign for Barber.
– CNN's Susanna Capelouto contributed to this report.
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You have always remained a very courageous man and worthy servant to our rep Gifford's, with that i think u have my vote though am republican, but this time, i will vote Democrat, Gabby was a gentle soul and outstanding lady. Keep the good work
Damn right you will vote for him!
This election comes down to one issue !
Those still watching the Lawrence Welk show and those that are not !
Mitt Romney / Pat Boone
Tutti Frutti Bop Ban Boom 2012
Oh darn. I thought this would be about Haley Barbour voting for Obama and THAT would be newsworthy!
Dems for Obama. Repubs for Romney. Former Dems for Romney. Former Repubs are scattering.
Very good. We LOVE you, Yes, obama12....
Well, that's funny. It's Obama's Policies that are killing the Middle Class. Business won't-can't hire because of Obama Care and strangling Regulations. Did he not hear about the vote in Wisconsin ??
It is either what he believes or he has been pressured into it. Frankly, it sounds good to me.
Ron Bar-bell, just one simple question: What planet have you been living in for the last 3-1/2 years?! You are either stupid or you have been secretly gulping the Mr. Obama spiked Kool Aid.
Mr. Obama's policies are better?! Our country is going down the tubes especially because of Mr. Obama's policies. As a life-long Democrat; Mr. Bar-Bell, are you kidding me?!
In the large marjority of states, where the electoral college disenfranchises you, the only meaningful vote is a protest vote. If you live in Texas or some other locked-in red or blue state, your vote adds absolutely nothing to the total of your selected candidate. No matter how you vote, unless you live in a so-called swing state, your vote is totally meaningless.
I don't care if you vote or don't vote for president. Just don't expect it to count.
Democrats, I'll say it over and over again, the ONLY good thing you can learn from this embarrassing things that call themselves Rethuglicans is how to stick together.
United you stand, divided you'll fall...right into their greedy little hands.
Obama 2012. Because the alternative is a bad joke on "AMERCIA".
That should've been:' These embarrassing things". Pardon me.
What a shocker, a Dem congressman supports the President. In other news, it mysteriously got light around 6:30AM this morning.