(BOW, N.H.) — Mitt Romney addressed the first major national tragedy of his candidacy today, offering condolences to those affected in this morning’s Colorado shooting. He also told supporters that the events of the day serve as a reminder to “appreciate our blessings in life.”
The candidate, dressed in a dark suit and a tie, spoke for just under four minutes at a lumberyard that had been chosen to be the site of a Victory Event for his campaign. The original plan was scrubbed as soon as news of the shooting broke earlier in the day.
“I stand before you today not as a man running for office but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American,” said Romney, standing before an American flag, two others hanging nearby, his podium naked of its usual décor. “This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another. And how much we love and how much we care for our great country. There is so much love and goodness in the heart of America.”
Romney for President signs that are usually staples at the candidate’s events were gone, and no music blared over the speakers as a crowd of about 300 awaited Romney remarks, which were brief and solemn. It was the first time Romney has taken to a national stage to offer condolences to a country in mourning.
To do so, Romney, who rarely mentions his own faith on the trail, evoked God and read from scripture during his remarks. An Anglican Catholic priest led a prayer prior to Romney’s remarks.
“Our hearts break for the victims and their families, we pray that the wounded will recover and that those that are grieving will know the nearness of God,” said Romney. “This morning Colorado lost youthful voices which would have brightened their homes, enriched their schools, and brought joy to their families.”
“Our prayer is that the comforter might bring the peace to their souls that surpasses our understanding,” he said. “The Apostle Paul explained, Blessed Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble.”
The Romney campaign cancelled an event scheduled to be hosted by Ann Romney, and announced that they would also pull their campaign ads currently airing in Colorado.
Romney walked off the stage following his remarks but quickly reemerged, standing beside New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte as well as the priest in a makeshift receiving line, shaking hands and speaking briefly with the long line of supporters filing out of the event. An aide told ABC News that the decision to stay to shake hands with attendants was done at Romney’s request.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Eric Bradner, Shimon Prokupecz and Dan Merica, CNN