President Obama on Monday hailed the citizens who showed "extraordinary courage" during and after Saturday's shooting spree in Tucson, which left six dead and 14 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Politics Daily has confirmed with a White House official that Obama will travel to Tucson on Wednesday with First Lady Michelle for a memorial service at the University of Arizona.
A White House staffer told Politics Daily that Obama will call all the families of the victims -- but not every family yet was ready to deal with a call. The White House said that the calls will continue through the week. "The president is assuring them that all is being done to try and get to the bottom of this. He is offering his full support and thoughts and prayers on behalf of himself, Michelle and the entire nation," the White House said in a statement.
The White House has gone to lengths to make sure the public knows how much the president is focused on the Saturday massacre. The administration released detailed information about Obama swinging into action a short time after he was notified of the shootings, including his meetings with incoming chief of staff Bill Daley and others and calls made to public officials and families of the victims of the rampage.
On Saturday, Obama was notified of the slaughter at about 1:20 p.m. EST by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and John Brennan, his top security adviser. By 3 p.m. he was in briefings and started making calls, including leaving a message for Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Those briefing Obama included FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, Daley, Brennan, Messina, Legislative Affairs chief Phil Schiliro, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, Scheduling and Advance Chief Alyssa Mastromonaco and others.
At 4:46 p.m. Obama addressed the shocked nation from the State Dining Room, saying he had already dispatched Mueller to Tucson to coordinate the investigation and that he had discussed the situation in calls to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders.
On Sunday, Obama talked to both Arizona senators, Republicans Jon Kyl and John McCain, the family of Gabe Zimmerman, the Giffords staffer who was killed and the family of the 9-year-old who was shot, Christina-Taylor Green.
The president and Mrs. Obama observed a minute of silence on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, and each cancelled their public schedules for Tuesday. Obama postponed a visit to Schenectady, N.Y. to the General Electric energy plant. Mrs. Obama will reschedule what was to have been a major announcement with business leaders dealing with "food formulation, availability and affordability."
On Monday morning, Obama received two briefings from Brennan; on Sunday he had three, as well as a conversation with Mueller.
During a joint press availability on Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama opened with remarks about the tragedy.
"Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime," Obama said.
"I think it's important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.
"And so, in the coming days we're going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we're doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who've been impacted, making sure that we're joining together and pulling together as a country. And as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously, I'm spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them," he said.