President Obama called for a day of mourning in brief remarks in Florida on Friday, urging Americans to come together in the wake of a shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left at least 12 dead.
“We’re going to stand by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time,” Obama said. He said that ” the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice.”
“Even as we learn how this happened and who is responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this,” Obama said. “Such violence, such evil is senseless, it’s beyond reason.”
The president appeared to choke up as he noted the personal horror he felt as a parent in learning of the attack, an emotion he said he imagined many other fathers and mothers felt as well.
“I’m sure that many of you who are parents here have the same reaction that I did when I heard this news,” Obama said. “My daughters go to the movies. “What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.”
Obama told the crowd, which had arrived for an earlier scheduled campaign rally, that “there are going to be other days for politics.” His campaign, and Mitt Romney’s campaign, announced earlier Friday they would pull negative ads from Colorado in the wake of the attack.
“This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection,” Obama said, leading the audience in a moment in silence. “I hope all of you will keep the people of aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come,” he said afterward.
The audience, some of whom perhaps were unaware of the shooting before arriving, did not entirely mirror the president’s somber tone: After he finished his remarks, chants of “Four more years!” broke out among some in the crowd.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.