Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Obama, Romney Halt Campaigning in Wake of Deadly Colorado Shooting Rampage

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Obama, Romney Halt Campaigning in Wake of Deadly Colorado Shooting Rampage

Article excerpt

Colorado tragedy halts presidential campaigns


WASHINGTON - Presidential politics took a back seat to tragedy Friday as Americans grappled with yet another mass shooting, this one an estimated 90-second rampage in a Colorado movie theatre that left 12 people dead and 59 injured.

"This morning we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways we are united as one American family," President Barack Obama said in brief remarks in Fort Myers, Fla., where he'd been scheduled to make a campaign speech aimed at rallying supporters.

Instead, he cut short his swing through the key battleground state and headed back to Washington, D.C.

"There are going to be other days for politics," he said. "This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection."

The carnage occurred in a crowded movie theatre in suburban Denver when a gunman opened fire as movie-goers watched a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

One of the victims, Jessica Ghawi, was an American hockey writer who survived Toronto's recent Eaton Centre shooting.

Obama also vowed that the perpetrator of the "heinous act" would be brought to justice. Authorities have arrested a lone gunman identified as James Holmes, 24, a neuroscience PhD student.

"Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason," the president said before ordering American flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Wednesday.

Mitt Romney, Obama's Republican rival for the White House, released a statement saying that he and his wife, Ann, were "deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence."

In an appearance in New Hampshire, he added: "Our hearts break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy."

Both men suspended campaigning and also stopped airing negative ads in the state of Colorado.

The bloodshed in Colorado is just the latest mass shooting to play out in the United States, a nation that increasingly reveres its guns no matter how many times such incidents occur.

Even the near-fatal shooting of one-time Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a similar incident in January 2011 has failed to result in tougher gun control laws in the U.S.

Indeed, Gallup polls suggest Americans have grown more resistant to tougher gun-control laws over the past two decades. Many states have loosened their gun laws, allowing citizens to carry loaded firearms in public as the National Rifle Association continues to wield formidable clout on Capitol Hill.

In Colorado, in fact, people are allowed to have handguns in their cars, businesses and homes and can carry concealed weapons in public.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime gun control advocate, assailed both Obama and Romney in a sharp rebuke on Friday morning.

"You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it's time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it," Bloomberg said in an interview with a New York radio station. …

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