President Obama and Mitt Romney were both scheduled to talk about how terrible each other are this Friday, but then an actual terrible thing happened. They couldn't cancel their events completely after the Batman shooting in Aurora, Colorado, because they need to look like leaders. What to do?
Both Obama and Romney spoke at their pre-planned events in front of American flags, omitting signs with campaign slogans. Obama pulled his negative ads from Colorado; Romney pulled all his ads in the state. Campaign events for Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, and Joe Biden were cancelled. Instead of giving his stump speech in Ft. Myers, Florida, Obama talked about the shooting, saying, "My daughters go to the movies… What if Malia and Sasha had been in the theater as so many of our kids do every day? Michele and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight." The speech was just six minutes long. He cancelled his second planned stop in Florida, saying, "There are going to be other days for politics. This I think is a day for prayer and reflection."
Romney's campaign brought in a local Anglican priest to say a prayer before his event in New Hampshire. He told the crowd, "Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering the deepest condolences for those whose lives were shattered in a few moments — a few moments of evil — in Colorado ... What we do know is how evil is overcome. We’re seeing that greater power today in the goodness and compassion of a wounded community ... We will show our fellow citizens the good heart of the America we know and love." Romney shook hands with supporters as they left, "Quiet and orderly like a funeral receiving line," Sam Youngman says. (Photo via Romney's spokesman Ryan Williams.) Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom, in an apparent direct message fail, tweeted, "Have to work tonite."
Those political people who don't have to win over more than half of all Americans do not have to be so careful. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert blamed the crime on America falling away from religious values, telling the Heritage Foundation, "You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place." New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanded the candidates say how they'd stop gun violence. The Brady Campaign circulated a petition to get more gun control laws passed. And the Tea Party Patriots attacked the media, because ABC News erroneously reported the shooter was connected to the Tea Party. (ABC issued a retraction and apologized.) "We call on ABC News to immediately stop all reckless and false reporting, and we are putting all media outlets on notice that false political attacks on the American people will no longer be tolerated," Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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