Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Obama flies to meet tragic families

Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address that he hoped everyone took time 'for prayer and reflection' (AP/Susan Walsh)

President Barack Obama is to fly to Colorado today to meet victims of the Batman cinema massacre and their families, the White House said.

The deadly shootings in Aurora briefly silenced the presidential campaign, prompting both Mr Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to cut short their schedules and pull advertising in the state out of respect for the victims.

Mr Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address that he hoped everyone took time this weekend "for prayer and reflection - for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover".

The President said Americans should also think about "all the victims of the less publicised acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis. Let us keep all these Americans in our prayers".

Aides said Mr Obama received updates from his homeland security adviser, John Brennan, on the investigation into the shooting and the attempts by authorities to gain access to the suspect's booby-trapped apartment.

Mr Obama and Mr Romney used campaign appearances on Friday to focus attention on the need for national unity in the aftermath of the shooting. Their campaign teams rescheduled show appearances by top aides and surrogates for today, essentially providing a break in what has been an increasingly testy campaign.

The rampage injected a new tone into the campaign after Mr Obama and Mr Romney had clashed repeatedly over the economy, health care programmes for the elderly, and tax returns.

Mr Obama was set to start his second day of events in Florida when the shootings occurred, prompting his team to address the violence at a previously scheduled rally in Fort Myers and scrapping an event in suburban Orlando.

He told supporters in Fort Myers that the shootings served as a "reminder that life is very fragile".

"Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it's not the trivial things," he said. "Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another."

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