Obama urges Americans to unite following Arizona shooting

13:19, January 13, 2011      

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President Barack Obama said on Wednesday night that Americans should unite instead of splitting following the Arizona shooting rampage.

One thing "we cannot do is to use this occasion to turn on each other," the president said, referring to a heated debate over whether harsh political rhetoric contributed to the Saturday shooting which killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

"Let's use this occasion ... to sharpen our instinct for sympathy," Obama noted in a speech aimed at healing some wounds and sending a message of cooperation.

America is like a polarized nation that needs healing, the president hinted. "Hopes are here tonight" despite the tragedy, Obama said at a memorial service to remember the victims.

"There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen," Obama said.

"It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," he said to a capacity crowd at the University of Arizona basketball arena in Tucson, where the shooting took place.

He warned against any instinct to point blame or to drift into political pettiness or to latch onto simple explanations that may have no merit.
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