Presidential Candidates Resist the Urge to Politicize Colorado Massacre

Published by Andre Showell on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 9:19 am.

(Photos from left: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, REUTERS /KEVIN LAMARQUE /LANDOV)

By Andre Showell

Very often, in covering politics, we can almost predict the behavior of the candidates. But every now and then, even the most experienced journos encounter something that causes us a healthy degree of surprise.  I was prepared for partisan rancor after we were alerted that President Obama and former  Gov. Mitt Romney would be making dueling statements today following the massacre in Colorado that left at least 12 dead and dozens more injured in a nonsensical killing spree in an Aurora movie theater.

Friday night, James Holmes, opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater at Friday’s midnight showing of the final film in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Riseskilling at least 12 people and wounding 58. Holmes also booby-trapped his home.

I was already braced for each candidate to take full advantage of the heightened attention and guaranteed free TV time to posture and to position themselves in a race to appear more “presidential.” But that was just not the case and it appears that decorum and tact prevailed, at least for today.

First, the president made a last-minute change in his hectic schedule to address the tragedy that has stopped communities across the globe dead in its tracks. He spoke in Fort Myers, Florida, calling for the country to band together and recognize the fragility of life.  He said “Our time here is limited and it is precious.  And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives.”

There was no mention of the need to enforce gun laws or to use the moment as a time to reinforce even tougher restrictions.  And there was not even a peep about Romney or Republican-backed measures that would ease gun access in the country.

Romney appealed to his audience, not as a White House candidate, but as a father. He said to his audience in New Hampshire, “Each one of us will hold our kids a little closer.” He said, “I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American.”

And while the bitter battle for the White House is still lurking in the wings, at least for this Friday, the rivals are in agreement in their move to bring the nation together under one umbrella as Americans.

The president said something that I believe sums up the sentiment for the day.  He said, “I am so moved by your support.  But there are going to be other days for politics.  This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”

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