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Obama to focus on victims' families during Colorado visit

10:10 AM, Jul 22, 2012   |    comments
By Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images President Obama discusses the shootings in Aurora, Colo, on Friday.
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By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
As President Obama travels to Colorado on Sunday to meet the families of the Colorado shooting rampage, lawmakers expressed hope that Obama's visit could help the bereaved community's healing process.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Obama would be meeting with some of the families of the 12 victims and is also hoping to visit a hospital to meet some of those wounded in the incident. But Hickenlooper said Obama will not participate in a community vigil scheduled for this evening.

"He felt that it would be too disruptive," Hickenlooper told CNN's State of the Union.

This isn't the first time Obama has taken on the role of consoler-in-chief. Obama travelled to Tucson, Ariz., for a memorial service to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting rampage there that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords badly injured-a speech that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Sunday played an important part in Arizona's healing.

Obama spoke at a memorial service after more than two dozen miners were killed in a West Virginia mine explosion last year, and more recently he visited Joplin, Mo., to makr the one-year anniversary of tornadoes there.

But with his visit to Aurora later today, Obama will focus on consoling the victims' of families away from the cameras. Hickenlooper said he understood the president's decision not to take part in the public vigil.

"Everybody would have to come two hours early and it would have overpowered it," said Hickenlooper, noting the president's presence at the vigil would require tighter security. "I think it was very sensitive. He's going to do what he can to help these families but not disrupt any more than absolutely necessary."

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan called Obama's visit to have private conversations with some of those directly impacted by the tragedy a "wonderful gesture."

"He could certainly come to the vigil, but that would have made the focus on the president and not the community, and he was well aware of that," Hogan said in an interview on ABC's This Week.

USA TODAY

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