Addressing a stunned nation, President Barack Obama on Saturday grieved for the children and teachers massacred in Newtown, Conn., declaring that "every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt."
Obama, addressing the tragedy for the second time since the violence erupted Friday, sympathized with the families of the dead and said he and his wife, Michelle, "are doing what I know every parent is doing - holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them."
Obama spoke Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. Republicans, who typically also give an address, ceded their time so that Obama could speak for the nation.
“There will be no weekly Republican address this weekend so that President Obama can speak for the entire nation at this time of mourning,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “I join the president – and all Americans – in sending prayers and condolences to the victims’ loved ones.”
The carnage was carried out by a man who killed his mother at home and then massacred 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown where she taught, authorities say. The shooter committed suicide at the school.
"Our hearts are broken today," the president said Saturday. "We grieve for the families of those we lost. And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived. Because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child's innocence has been torn away far too early."
Obama's remarks were similar to ones he delivered emotionally from the White House briefing room Friday afternoon. Obama paused and wiped his eyes as he spoke Friday, just hours after the shootings.
He reiterated his appeal that, "regardless of the politics," it was time for the country to join together and "take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this." But neither he nor his aides have specified what action that might entail.
Obama has supported reinstating a ban on military-style assault weapons but has not pushed Congress for such legislation.
Gun-control activists, however, promptly renewed their demand for new gun laws. The most prominent was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who declared pointedly in a statement: "Calling for 'meaningful action" is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before."