WASHINGTON (AP) — Once again donning the mantle of consoler-in-chief, President Barack Obama will travel Sunday to Colorado to comfort distraught families of those gunned down in a minute and a half of real-life horror at a midnight movie showing.
While authorities gather evidence on the suspect and the nation tries to fathom what drove the gunman, Obama will meet with loved ones struggling with pain and grief.
“We need to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.
The president planned just a brief visit to Colorado — a bit under 2 ½ hours — during which he was also scheduled to meet with local officials in Aurora, where the shots rang out at a multiplex theater early Friday. Twelve of the victims died, 58 were injured.
After the Colorado stop, Obama is flying to San Francisco, where on Monday he’ll begin a previously scheduled three-day campaign trip that includes a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., multiple fundraisers in California, Oregon and Washington state and a speech to the National Urban League convention in New Orleans.
The shock of Friday’s rampage brought the sprawling and sometimes vitriolic presidential campaign to a virtual standstill.
Obama cut short a political trip to Florida to return to Washington. Mitt Romney canceled interviews. Both campaigns pulled ads off the air in Colorado out of respect for the victims.
But with election activities set to resume in the new week, Vice President Joe Biden is speaking to the National Association of Police Organizations in Palm Beach County, Fla., on Monday, and Romney is to address the VFW on Tuesday.
For Obama, the unhappy task of articulating sorrow and loss has become a familiar one.
Indeed, for modern presidents, it’s become an accepted facet of the office — and for some, an opportunity for soaring words that rise above the partisan trench warfare of day-to-day governing.
Not 10 months in office, Obama led mourners at a service for victims of the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting, bowing his head before shrines of framed photos and boots belonging to the soldiers among the 13 who perished.
In January of last year, he spoke at a memorial for the six victims killed in Tucson, Ariz., when a gunman attacked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents.
The following April, when some 300 people were killed in a multi-state outbreak of tornadoes, Obama flew to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to commiserate with residents whose homes were in ruins. A month later, Obama went to Joplin, Mo., after a monster twister claimed 161 lives. This year, he came back on the storm’s anniversary to give a commencement speech at Joplin High School.
In between these public observances have been countless private meetings with families of troops who fell in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For Obama, the Colorado visit was to be his second in just over three weeks. Last month, he flew to Colorado Springs to share the pain of homeowners whose houses had been turned to charred heaps by a record outbreak of wildfires.
Obama had already been a frequent Colorado visitor — no surprise given the state’s key role in his re-election bid. He won the state by more than 8 percentage points over John McCain four years ago. But neither Obama’s nor Romney’s camp expects that big a margin this time. Recent polls place Obama’s lead inside the margin of error.
But for one more day, at least, electoral considerations remained on the back burner.
“This weekend I hope everyone takes some time for prayer and reflection,” Obama said in his Saturday broadcast, “for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover.”
More Related Stories
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
- Coburn calls questions about tornado aid "typical Washington B.S."
- Conspiracy theorists clash over London attack
- Voting is not a right
- Destroying the planet for record profits
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Pic of the day: Barack Obama at prom
- Anti-Islam backlash in London after machete attack
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Obama’s drone speech will probably be maddening
- Boehner: "Inconceivable" Obama didn't know about IRS targeting
- Obama to announce new effort to close Guantanamo Bay
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11