Bow, New Hampshire (CNN) – A campaign rally for Mitt Romney was devoid of politics following a deadly shooting in Colorado Friday.
"I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and a grandfather, a husband and an American," Romney said in New Hampshire. "This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another."
A top Romney adviser said the candidate made the decision to set aside his usual stump speech to offer his own personal reflections on the tragedy.
"He wanted to say something," the adviser told CNN.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, introduced Romney to the crowd. Ayotte, who is rumored to be high on Romney's vice presidential search list, kept her remarks brief.
To offer a more respectful backdrop to the candidate's remarks, Romney's aides removed campaign signs from the event site in the early morning hours, an adviser to the GOP contender told CNN.
Instead, as Romney spoke to a crowd of approximately 200 supporters, an American flag was positioned behind on stage for the remarks. Another flag flapped in a light breeze overhead.
In his remarks, Romney said Americans' "hearts break" for the victims and families of the shooting, which took place at a movie theater outside of Denver early Friday morning.
"We pray that the wounded will recover, and that those who are grieving will know the nearness of God," Romney said. "Today, we feel not only a sense of grief, but perhaps also of helplessness, but there is something that we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy laden and we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado."
Ahead of Romney's remarks, a couple hundred people who came to watch to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee unleash his latest attacks on President Barack Obama instead were bowing their heads with Father Christian Tutor to pray on behalf of victims and their families.
"I ask all of you to join me in whatever way that you would like to offer a prayer for all those who are mourning and for, of course, our own nation under God," the priest told the crowd.
In an impromptu moment following his remarks, Romney stood just outside the seating area for his event, shaking hands and sharing hugs with nearly all of the supporters who stood in line to meet the candidate. "He just decided to do this," a top Romney adviser explained to CNN.
Tutor, the Anglican priest who gave the prayer and Sen. Kelly Ayotte joined him. Before he left Romney thanked the priest for his "very touching, very moving" remarks.
Romney's campaign said Friday they would pull television advertisements in Colorado.
In a statement released earlier Friday morning, Romney said he and his wife Ann were "deeply saddened" by news of the shooting, which took place at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.
"We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice," Romney wrote.
An adviser said Romney missed having his wife at his side in New Hampshire. Ann Romney was in Michigan for a campaign event that was cancelled in response to the tragedy.
READ MORE: Obama, after shooting, tells supporters 'Such evil is senseless'
Mittens does care about 'you people.'
I remember the good old days when the NRA was concerned about gun education and gun safety, not about making clips for automatic weapons bigger.
Okay, you know what? You and that non working wife of yours already gave your "condolences".
The President put a hold on his appearances. Why don't you the same and crawl back under your money pile.
This is a national tragedy that should be handled by those who can do something about it. You are not it!
"I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and a grandfather, a husband and an American,"
No politics? Really?
It's too bad he couldn't say as a 'former veteran" or as a "father of a son serving to protect the American people".
This won't change the subject. Now where are those tax returns Willard?
Another NRA pol that will never do anything meaningful to stop this insanity.
hey Mitt – would you pledge that if elected you would bring back the assault weapons ban?
"I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and a grandfather, a husband and an American," Romney said
So, every other day except today he's, what? A rabbit? Get a better speech writer, Mr. Romney.
Unity only for his billionaire and millionaire donors… the rest of “All You People” are not invited.
Willard mentions 15 people. This guy is so ignorant its astounding. The ONLY reason he's even in this race is because of race. Otherwise, the Romney's would have been history a long time ago.
Mittens is once again cashing in politically on a national tragedy. Can't 'you people' see what the plutocrat is doing?
wow – Mitt shows some class and all you "commentators" just thrash him. You all should be ashamed for your lack of a soul and total disrespect for any decent person. Please go back to Germany 1943 where you all belong. Disgusting people you all are.
Mittens can say, "As a person who watched the Viet Nam War from a suite in France, I know what tragedy is."
He's just copying Obama! Remember the "you didn't build that" statement? Romney copied that too! Right after calling Obama out on it, he started using it!
This idiot is scaring the hell out of me, wasn't this the same person that gleefully took NRA money to make certain that more Americans have greater access to firearms? On any even scary note this misguided chump is also pressing for the US to take a more active leadership role in shoring up the Syria situation, for those of you that don't speak fluent republican that means fatten up the defense industry and send our children over to fight a war that has nothing to do with America or its interests! Guaranteed if this fool is elected he will rush to throw our children's lives away to make his ultra rich defense contractor buddies even richer, what's the life of a service member worth in comparison to all of the money his' buddies' will steer his way for another 10 year war?
Romney is just grateful that something pushed his tax evasion out of the headlines.
Really people? It's depressing to read your comments. I think if Obama and Romney can lay off the negativity for a bit, we would do well to follow their example. There aren't too many examples these days in politics worth following, but this would be one of them.
He's trying to sound presidential.
And yet you are still a card carrying member of the NRA and don't want your 2nd amendment right to be effected.
The baggers are trying to be a well oiled machine with Mittens as the dipstick.
Rmoney is an opportunist, trying to use this tragedy to his own advantage.
Mitt just created a Cayman Island shell company called Aurora Specialties. Details to follow.
Well-played Mr. Romney. I'm not a fan of you as a candidate or as a person, but I'm proud of you as an American today.
"Mitt shows some class"
BZZZT – wrong – he has NONE.
As a tax evader, corporate raider, and jobs outsourcer, I stand before you today.