Bloomberg: Where do Obama, Mitt stand?
Within hours of the horrific shooting deaths in Colorado, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s leading advocates for stricter gun control, was working Friday to seize the moment to put the issue squarely in the middle of the presidential race.
Bloomberg demanded President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tell voters specifically what they plan to do prevent such tragedies in the future - saying that standing up for what’s right is more important than winning election.
“Soothing words are nice,” the mayor, who has yet to endorse in the White House race, said a radio appearance on Friday morning. “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic?’”
Bloomberg, the founder of a national gun control organization, spoke not long after the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., during the showing “The Dark Knight Rises” that killed at least 12 people and injured dozens of others. A 24-year-old man who is suspected of the murders is in custody; he was armed with at least four weapons during the attack, according to reports.
Both Obama and Romney are expected to address the slayings during separate appearances on Friday - moments when the eyes of the nation will be watching the candidates for how they respond to the tragedy and when perhaps the White House contest will be elevated from what many have criticized as an issue-less campaign in which the hopefuls have spent a great deal of time focused on trivial issues that are of little concern to voters.
After he speaks in Florida, Obama is cutting short his two-day campaign visit to the Sunshine State and returning to the White House in light of the shootings, it was announced Friday.
For his part, Bloomberg insisted that politicians must offer policy proposals in addition to prayers and sympathy.
“I mean, there’s so many murders with guns every day,” Bloomberg said. “It’s just gotta stop. And instead of these two people, President [Barack] Obama and Governor [Mitt] Romney, talking in broad things about, they want to make the world a better place. OK, tell us how. And this is a problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them, concretely, not just in generalities, specifically, what are they going to do about guns?”
Bloomberg also went on to suggest most of the nation’s governors should also make their stances clear.
”There’s something more important than getting re-elected,” he said. “And that’s standing up and saying what you think is right.”
Meanwhile, many lawmakers reacted in shock and horror to the shooting deaths.
“Colorado is not a violent place but we have some violent people,” said Aurora Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), who represents the district where the shooting take place, in a statement.
“I am stunned and furious at the news of the shooting at the Aurora Century 16 Movie theatre this morning. Our heart and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy… We are a strong and resilient community, and we will lean on each other in the days, weeks and months to come,” he said.
“Confronted with incomprehensible evil, Americans pull together and embrace our national family more tightly. I join President Obama, and every American, in sending my thoughts and prayers to the victims of this awful tragedy. We will all stand with them, as one nation, in the days ahead,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement.
“As a mom, I keep thinking, ‘My kids go to the movies all the time.’ Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, senseless tragedy in #Aurora, CO,” tweeted DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz early Friday morning.
“Praying for those affected by the CO shooting last night — our hearts are with you all,” echoed RNC chair Reince Priebus.
“I am shocked and saddened by the news of the #TheaterShooting — my prayers are w/ the families involved & the Colorado community,” said Republican majority whip Kevin McCarthy on Twitter.
“Deeply saddened to hear the tragic news out of Aurora. My heart goes out to victims, the injured & all of their families,” added Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “So very sad to learn about the shooting in Colorado. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims there,” wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.).
Obama was notified of the shooting this morning at 5:26 a.m. ET by Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, while in Palm Beach, Fla., on a campaign swing.
The president said that he and his wife are “shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado.”
“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family,” said the President. “All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Romney said that he and his wife was “deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence.”
“We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice,” Romney said in a statement.
The FBI said Friday morning that there was no indication that the shootings were related to terrorism, according to the AP.
“I have directed the Department of Homeland Security to provide any support necessary in the ongoing investigation. We are committed to bringing those responsible to justice,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) - who was governor during the Virginia Tech shootings in which 32 people were murdered - added his support for the victims in a statement.
“I am heartbroken and shocked by the horrific act of violence in Colorado. The thoughts of Anne and I are with the families who have lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. We continue to pray for the recovery of those who have been wounded, and we offer our support to Governor Hickenlooper and the entire community of Aurora as they heal,” said Kaine, who is running for U.S Senate.
Joseph Kennedy III echoed those remarks, tweeting, “Terrible tragedy in Colorado last night. Praying for the victims, their families, and the City of Aurora.”