The deadly shooting spree in Colorado consumed the presidential campaign Friday, sidetracking a bitter political contest with a tragedy that at least temporarily brought the candidates together in common purpose.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney altered changed campaign schedules to address the killings. Both issued statements of condolences, calling for prayer and unity in the aftermath of the overnight bloodshed at a suburban Denver movie theater.
In his statement, Obama said that he and first lady Michelle Obama were shocked by the "horrific and tragic" shooting. Obama said his administration would do everything they can to support the people of Aurora, Colo.
"As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors," said Obama.
Obama canceled an appearance near Orlando, Fla., and was returning to Washington ahead of schedule. He was to speak about the tragedy in Fort Myers, Fla., during an abbreviated appearance. Romney, too, was to address the matter at a previously scheduled campaign event in New Hampshire. He canceled some media interviews.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement that he and his wife Ann were "deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence" that led to the loss of life and injuries. He said they were 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."