BOW, N.H. -- Mitt Romney set aside a routine campaign event this afternoon to call for national unity and prayer in the wake of the movie theater shooting in Colorado at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee spoke from a stage surrounded by American flags but without campaign signs for less than four minutes about the killings of 12 people and woundings of dozens more.
"Our hearts break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy," he said. "Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences for those whose lives were shattered in a few moments, a few moments of evil, in Colorado. I stand before you today not as a man running for office but as a father and grandfather, a husband and American.
"This is a moment for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another and how much we love and how much we care for our great country."
When he turned and left the stage, the audience sat for a moment in silence.
As they began to file out, Mr. Romney emerged from the building of the wholesale lumber business hosting the event and greeted each person. He stood shaking hands until they were gone.
Richard Rathbone, a town resident who teaches nearby, said he appreciated Mr. Romney's remarks.
"It was very fitting for today, under the circumstances," he said. "I was expecting a bit more on his thoughts on the campaign, but considering the timing, it's just not appropriate."
Mr. Romney spoke of faith, saying those mourning in Aurora, Colo., would be comforted by the prayers of a nation.
"Grieving and worried families in Aurora are surrounded with love today, and not just by those who are with them and holding them in their arms," he said. "They can also know they're being lifted up in prayer by people in every part of our great nation. Now, and in the hard days to come, may every one of them feel the sympathy of our whole nation and the comfort of a living god."
The Obama team in New Hampshire set aside earlier plans to respond to Mr. Romney's appearance. Mr. Romney is expected to spend part if the weekend at his vacation home an hour north on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Karen Langley: email@example.com or 717-787-2141.