WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama struggled to hold back tears addressing the deaths of more than 20 children and educators at a Newtown, Connecticut, school Friday.
Speaking from the White House briefing room, Obama said, “Our hearts are broken today,” for the dead, their families, and the survivors.
“The majority of those who died today were children,” Obama said, wiping away tears, and pausing to regain his composure. “Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, weddings, kids of their own.”
For the first time after a mass shooting, Obama said he will press for “meaningful action regardless of politics,” signaling that he may invest political capital on pushing for gun control legislation.
“As a country we have been through this too many times,” he added, mentioning shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Oak Creek, Wisconsin, as well as a “street-corner” in violence-plagued Chicago.
Obama, red-eyed and clearly pained, spoke of his his daughters, saying he first reacted to the shooting as a father. “I know that there is not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do,” he said.
Before speaking, Obama ordered American flags to half-staff until sunset Tuesday.