President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney suspended their increasingly bitter presidential campaign Friday in the wake of the shootings at a movie theater in Colorado.
“There are going to be other days for politics,” Obama told supporters in Fort Myers, Fla., before cutting his campaign trip short to return to Washington. “This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”
“I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today,” Obama said after calling for a moment of silence. “May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in hard days to come.”
Obama’s campaign also canceled events by Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, and first pulled its negative ads and then all of its ads in Colorado. An Obama “super” political action committee, Priorities USA Action, also announced that it would suspend ads in Colorado.
Romney’s campaign pulled its ads in Colorado and canceled an appearance in Michigan by the candidate’s wife, Ann. The former Massachusetts governor spoke hours after Obama from a campaign stop in Bow, N.H.
“Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences for those whose lives were shattered in a few moments, a few moments of evil,” Romney said, adding that he appeared “not as a man running for office,” but as a husband, father and grandfather.
“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,” Romney said.
Gun law change unlikely
The Colorado mass shooting is reigniting a debate over whether tougher gun laws are needed, but congressional legislation is a long shot, especially in an election year.
Gun-control legislation is likely to be introduced again, as it was after other high-profile shootings, such as those at Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007.
But even gun-control advocates acknowledge they face a tough climb.
When asked about prospects for gun-control legislation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Friday, “I don’t believe it has a chance in this environment.”
Feinstein, a leading gun-control advocate who sponsored the federal assault weapons ban that Congress let lapse in 2004, added in an interview: “Americans really have to begin to show some outrage at this.”
Brendan Daly, a former House Democratic leadership aide, also doubted that the Colorado shootings would spur congressional action.
“Congress didn’t act when one of its own members, someone they knew and loved, was shot last year,” he said, referring to last year’s shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson. “There is no reason to think this year will be any different.”
Polls show the public divided over the issue. According to an April survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 49 percent of respondents said it’s more important to protect the right to own guns, while 45 percent said it’s more important to control gun ownership.
Movie ads removed
Broadcast and cable channels across the country, including NBC, CBS and ESPN, scrambled Friday to remove advertising for “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The advertisements were being pulled from national and local programs on broadcast and cable stations.
TV ads for “The Dark Knight Rises” feature numerous violent scenes from the movie, including Batman aiming an enormous gun almost directly at the camera.
In another ad, a character not seen on screen states, “These are violent criminals that terrorize Gotham.”
Warner Bros. is one of the biggest advertisers in Hollywood, spending $738.9 million to promote its movies last year, according to Kantar Media.
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