An emotional President Barack Obama Friday decried what he called the "heinous crime" in Connecticut, saying "our hearts are broken," as he called for efforts to stem the tide of violence.
He spoke for less than five minutes and several times lost a struggle to fight back tears. "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do," he said. "The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old."
The father of two young daughters, Obama paused for more than 5 seconds, wiping tears from his eyes before he continued: "They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own." And he noted that those killed included teachers who had "devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams."
He ticked off the recent spate of U.S. shootings and called for action: "As a country, we have been through this too many times," he said. "Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
He said that he and first lady Michelle Obama Friday night "will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another."
The White House also ordered flags to be flown half-staff at the White House and federal buildings and Obama cancelled a trip to Portland, Maine that was scheduled for Wednesday to push for his fix to the looming fiscal crisis.
And House Speaker John Boehner -- Obama's sparring partner in fiscal cliff deliberations -- scrapped the weekly Republican radio address "so that President Obama can speak for the entire
nation at this time of mourning." He added, "I join the president – and all
Americans – in sending prayers and condolences to the victims' loved