Obama, Romney Put Differences Aside In Aftermath of Colorado Shooting

Both presidential candidates had personal, not political, responses to Aurora tragedy.

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President Barack Obama, second from left, talks with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., left, as Aurora, Colo., Police Chief Daniel Oates, right, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, second from right, watch, after Obama arrived at at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012.

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been taking the same approach to the Aurora, Colo. movie-theater shootings—expressing solidarity with the victims and their families, underscoring the positive sides of American life, and avoiding partisanship.

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been taking the same approach to the Aurora, Colo. movie-theater shootings—expressing solidarity with the victims and their families, underscoring the positive sides of American life, and avoiding partisanship.

Each of them has risen to the occasion and shown a capacity for steady leadership at a difficult and emotional time. The big difference is that Obama can use the bully pulpit of the presidency, and his response has been magnified many times beyond Romney's, giving a boost, at least for now, to his image as an inspirational leader.

[Campaign Resumes After Pause For Colorado Shooting]

Obama received extensive news coverage for his visit to Aurora Sunday and his meetings with the families. After three hours of such sessions, Obama told reporters that he was there as a "husband and father" to represent the entire country in consoling those affected by the tragedy and calling attention to the heroism of the people who were under attack. And the reaction of local residents and local media to his appearance has been extremely positive.

Overall, the candidates' responses to the mass shootings have been remarkably similar.

Obama, speaking in Florida in the immediate aftermath of the shootings Friday, adopted a personal tone. "Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight," he said, "and I'm sure you will do the same with your children."

Romney, speaking in New Hampshire, used similar language. "Each one of us will hold our kids a little closer, linger a little bit longer with a colleague or a neighbor, reach out to a family member or friend."

Obama said his administration "stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice." But he also tried to be consoler in chief. "We may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," Obama noted. "Such violence, such evil, is senseless. It's beyond reason."

[PHOTOS: The Colorado Movie Theater Shooting.]

Romney took a similar tone. He said, "I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, an American. 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." On Sunday, Romney said Obama did the right thing by traveling to Aurora to demonstrate his support.

So as not to seem overly partisan and political, both Obama and Romney cancelled or shortened campaign events and pulled their negative ads in Colorado for at least a few days.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

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