(FORT MYERS, Fla.) — President Obama interrupted his campaign schedule on Friday to ask his supporters to think of the victims of Friday morning’s deadly shooting in Colorado. He promised that the shooter will see justice for his “heinous crime.”
The Obama and Romney campaigns canceled rallies and pulled their negative attack ads after the gunman killed more than a dozen people who were watching the premiere of the new Batman movie, which began showing at midnight.
“We will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people,” Obama, who was staying at a hotel outside West Palm Beach, Fla., said at an event that was intended to be a campaign rally. Obama left the event to return to the White House.
Observing about 15 seconds of silence for the victims, Obama told the crowd that the shooting is a reminder that “life is very fragile,” and that he and his wife would be hugging their daughters a little tighter on Friday.
“It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose,” he said. “That’s what matters. At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here.”
Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan told Obama of the shooting at 5:26 a.m., the White House said. He has also been briefed by the FBI director and his chief of staff while on the way to the airport in Florida. Obama spoke with Aurora’s mayor and Colorado’s governor as well.
The Obama campaign has removed its negative ads targeting Mitt Romney for his time at Bain Capital and his tax records, and Obama’s super PAC has suspended advertising in Colorado too.
“We have asked affiliates to pull down our contrast advertising for the time being,” said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “It takes time for stations to be able to do this, but we are making every effort.”
In his brief speech Friday morning, Obama said Friday should be focused on “prayer and reflection,” for which he was applauded.
“There are going to be other days for politics,” he said. As he ended his speech, his supporters chanted, “Four more years!”
The first lady and Vice President Joe Biden have also canceled campaign events on Friday. Michelle Obama was scheduled to be in Virginia, and Biden planned to raise money for Senate Democrats in Texas.
Ann Romney canceled an event in Michigan, and the Romney campaign has pulled its ads in Colorado.
Mitt Romney said in a statement Friday morning: “Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. 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.”
Neither campaign has said whether Obama or Romney plan on visiting Aurora to talk about the shooting.
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Dylan Byers Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
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Z. Byron Wolf, CNN