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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

An understanding, mournful crowd waits for Obama in Fort Myers



photo.jpgHundreds of people began lining up outside an event center to see President Obama this morning even as news was spreading of the mass shooting in Colorado. Obama will address the tragedy and likely keep his planned campaign remarks to a minimum, then head back to the White House.

"Events in Aurora, Colorado, have changed the nature of this event," a woman told the audience about 10:35 a.m.

"It's the right thing to do. We should all mourn in a situation like this," said Donna Johnston of Naples. Of the shootings she said, "What is wrong with this culture that this goes on? There's so much desperation in this country and for some reason people feel this is the type of thing they have to do to get noticed? Why aren't we noticing him when there are problems to begin with?"

"We all would have liked him to say something more but he is the president of the country and for all the people and this is part of the job. It's appropriate," said Leonard Lowell, 72, of Naples, a registered Republican who said he was supporting Obama because Mitt Romney had gone too far to the right.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that, "The tragedy of last night "have changed the nature of his remarks this morning as well as the events of the day. he feels this is the appropriate step on that front, and today we are focused on remembering the victims and finding out what happened."

White House spokesman Jay Carney added: "It is also the case he wants to be back in Washington to get further updates on this, and I think you can expect that he will upon arrival. Of course, he already has been thoroughly briefed."

The president was notified of the shooting by Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan at 5:26 a.m. ET this morning, the White House said.

[Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 10:43am]


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