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Obama leads moment of silence: 'What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater'

On a day on which he and Republican presidential candidate withdrew negative advertising in Colorado, Obama urged the country to come together, saying it “reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family.”

“If there was anything to take away from this tragedy it's the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious,” Obama told an audience in Florida. “What matters at the end of the day is not the small things. It's not the trivial things which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it's how we treat one another and how we love one another.”

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The president said he was also heartbroken as a father.

“My daughters go to the movies,” he said. “What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight and I'm sure you will do the same with your children.

“For those parents who may not be so lucky we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation,” he said.

Obama was scheduled to be in Florida for a string of campaign appearances, but canceled the events to head back to Washington.

“There are going to be other days for politics,” Obama told a somber crowd in Fort Myers that had gathered for a campaign rally. “This is a day for prayer and reflection.”

Authorities have arrested a lone gunman identified in news reports as James Holmes, 24, in the shootings in Aurora. Sometime after midnight, the shooter entered the movie theater through an emergency exit at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest movie in the Batman franchise.

Early reports estimate at least 12 dead and another 50 hospitalized with injuries after the shootings.

For more on the president's remarks, click here.