July 22nd, 2012
01:44 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama visit welcomed by Coloradans after shooting

(CNN) – President Barack Obama will assume the now-familiar task of comforting Americans grappling with devastation Sunday as he travels to Aurora, Colorado, two days after a gunman killed 12 people and wounded dozens more at a movie theater there.

Obama will meet with families of victims, as well as local officials, in Aurora before continuing on to San Francisco for previously scheduled campaign stops on Monday.

Obama, who was notified of the shooting by his chief counterterrorism adviser Friday morning, cut short a campaign swing through Florida and addressed the shooting at an event early in the day.

"Even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," Obama said in Fort Myers. "Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason."

Obama's opponent in November's election, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, also halted his campaign Friday, using a previously scheduled stop in New Hampshire to express sorrow for what happened in Colorado. Both campaigns said they were pulling campaign ads airing in Colorado.

A spokeswoman for Obama's campaign said Sunday the ads would remain off the air through Friday. Romney's team said the ads would not be airing "until further notice."

Sunday won't be the first time Obama has used his office to comfort survivors of tragedy. In 2011, he traveled to Tucson, Arizona, after a gunman killed six people and wounded several others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Obama's speech at a memorial service there drew the praise of his former opponent for the presidency, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

"He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday's senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America," McCain wrote in the Washington Post after Obama's remarks.

In 2010, Obama delivered a eulogy for miners killed in the collapse of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, and this spring, the president delivered the commencement address at Joplin High School one year after tornadoes destroyed much of the Missouri town and left 161 people dead.

Just last month, Obama traveled to Colorado to tour areas ravaged by wildfires. Sunday's visit, however, will focus instead on private meetings with families grappling with the loss of their loved ones.

The state's governor said on CNN on Sunday that Obama initially worried that he would be a distraction in Aurora as the community continues to come to terms with what transpired Friday.

"He, obviously, wants to do what he could to help," Gov. John Hickenlooper said on "State of the Union." "He said, 'If I'm a distraction or problem in any way, I shouldn't come.' And as we talked to individuals in the hospital, we talked to the Mayor (Steve) Hogan from the Aurora office, who has done an incredible job, and pretty much I think it was unanimous that if the president could come, it would be a very, very positive thing for this community, especially for the families of the victims."

Obama will not remain in Aurora for a planned vigil on Sunday evening, Hickenlooper said, explaining that the president's presence at that event would have detracted from the focus on victims of Friday's shooting.

"Everyone would have had to come two hours early. It would have overpowered it. And I think it was very sensitive he recognized he's going to do what he can to help these families but not disrupt anymore than what is absolutely necessary," the governor said.

Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said Sunday that the victims' families were eager to meet Obama.

"These families need that kind of contact by our elected leader, and it will be very powerful, and it will help them," Oates said on CBS. "As awful as what they've been through and what they're going through has been, having the president here is very, very powerful. It means a great deal to them and, I think, all of Aurora."

Also see:

- Both parties focus on Colorado shooting in weekly addresses

- Romney calls for unity following Colorado shooting

- Obama, after shooting, tells supporters 'Such evil is senseless'

- Bloomberg demands gun action from Obama and Romney

- Campaigns pull ads after shooting

Filed under: Colorado • President Obama
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. enuff

    God be with the families.

    July 22, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. Chipster

    Mass murderers crave celebrity. I hope that the media will focus on the victims, not the shooter. Don't even say his name, just call him the "shooter" or the "killer." I wish they would stop showing his photo. Unless a killer is at large, I have no need to see a photo and don't want to feed that craving for attention. Just ignore the killer as a person and honor the victims. His family has also been devastated and I'm sorry for them as well. I hope the President has comforting words for the families and victims.

    July 22, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    America will say this president is caring, true American wonderful president. Yes, on OBAMA12.

    July 22, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama represents the condolences that all Americans share and I pray that each family knows, we grieve with them.

    July 22, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Nonpartisan American First

    Thank you President Obama. We appreciate you coming to visit. At times like this our Presidents have always been there for us. May God Bless our country and our President.

    July 22, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Susan Wommack

    I can totally see why President Obama wants to visit the people in Colorado after such a horiffic thing. I live in Missouri and can never forget the Joplin Tornado!! The devastation in both these and many other events in our country are too hard to comprehend. My thought is, with the economy at our lowest, why not give the people hurt by these tragedies the money it takes to fly President Obama there. What a statement that would be. It not only saves tax payers the money to fly him there, it would shed a positive light on him. Food for thoughT in ouir economical mess we are forced to live in.

    July 22, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Phil Thomas

    Wow, hardly the monster the GOP paints this man to be. Please send these clowns a message in November America and give this man another term. They announced they wouldn't work with him the minute Rush Limbaugh gave the order and have held us back as a country don't reward these clowns on election day send them to the unemployment line

    July 22, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. n

    Will, the real, president of these United States of America, please stand up . . . Thank you Mr. President Barack Obama!

    July 22, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. S From Canada

    I truly wish all Americans would understand what an exemplory man your President is.
    So sad so many are still stuck in the 50s and 60s.
    God bless president Obama and God bless your country and, please God, remove the dark veil from so many eyes.

    July 22, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. stephanie

    the gop would rather have a president that flies over and look out the window. doing it this way the president doesn't have to touch any common people.

    July 22, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. J Harris

    President Barack Obama should not be commended on meeting and comforting the victims in this tragedy. That is what president should do becuase it is the natural thing to do. The president has a family and I am sure he has a heart. I don't say this out of disrepect for the president. That is just like commending a father who takes care of his kids. Reasonable people know that Barack Obama deep down is a good person. People need to put politics aside. The president is carrying out the duty as comforter in chief-Mitt Romney doesn't have that role because he is not the president. I was no fan of George W. Bush's policies, but I deeply respected his comforting of the Virginia Tech shooting victims in my state of Virginia. I put that dislike for Bush aside.

    July 22, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Lori Ross-Lincoln

    President Obama,

    Thanks for sending condolences and many prays from all of the American people to each individual and families that have been affected by this senseless tragedy. May God continue to bless you President Obama and America.

    July 22, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |