Despair all around him, President Barack Obama offered hugs, tears and the nation's sympathy Sunday to survivors of the Aurora, Colo., shooting rampage and to families whose loved ones were shot dead. He looked for hope in the heartbreak, insisting a brighter day will come for the grieving and declaring that "much of the world is thinking about them."

In dramatic detail, Obama offered a glimpse inside the horror that took place in the Denver-area movie theater early Friday, relaying a story he said spoke to the courage of young Americans. With two fingers pressed to his own neck, Obama recalled how one woman saved the life of a friend who had been shot by keeping pressure on a vein that had "started spurting blood" and later helping to carry her to safety.

In private, Obama visited one by one with hurting families gathered at a hospital and patients recovering in intensive care.

The president emerged before the TV cameras and kept his focus on the lives and dreams of the fallen and the survivors, not the shooting suspect or his "evil act."

"I come to them not so much as president as I do as a father and as a husband," Obama told reporters after his visits.

"The reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we could all understand what it would be to have somebody we love taken from us in this fashion."

For Obama, it was another unhappy occasion to serve as consoler-in-chief, a role that has become a crucial facet of the presidency.

National tragedies can present an opportunity for presidents to show leadership and rise above partisan politics, as with President Bill Clinton and the Oklahoma City bombing and President George W. Bush and the Sept. 11 attacks.

The massacre in the Aurora movie theater that left 12 dead and dozens wounded also temporarily silenced a bitter campaign fight for the White House between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.

It's the president's second time in Colorado in less than a month to comfort residents in a state critical to the November election.

He made a quick visit in late June to Colorado Springs, where hundreds of homes were destroyed in the most devastating wildfire in the state's history.

"These families need that kind of contact by our elected leader," said the Aurora police chief, Dan Oates. "It will be very powerful and it will help them. As awful as what they've been through and what they're going through has been, having the president here is very, very powerful; it means a great deal to them and all of Aurora," he told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I think the president coming in is a wonderful gesture," said Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan.

"He's coming in, really, to have private conversations with the families. I think that's totally appropriate."

Hogan told ABC's "This Week" that it "certainly means a lot to Aurora to know that the president cares."

Obama cut short a political trip to Florida to return to Washington and Romney canceled interviews.

Both campaigns pulled ads off the air in Colorado out of respect for the victims.

"This weekend I hope everyone takes some time for prayer and reflection," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, "for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover."

The task of articulating sorrow and loss has become a familiar one for Obama.

Not 10 months in office, he led mourners at a service for victims of the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

In January, he spoke at a memorial for the six victims killed in Tucson, Ariz., when a gunman attacked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents.

The following April, when 300 people were killed in a multistate series of tornadoes, Obama flew to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to commiserate with residents whose homes were in ruins.

A month later, he went to Joplin, Mo., after a monster twister claimed 161 lives. This year, he came back on the storm's anniversary to give a commencement speech at Joplin High School.

Suffolk fentanyl summit … REDC less money this year … What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

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Suffolk fentanyl summit … REDC less money this year … What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

Trump trial deliberations ... Rangers Game 5 tonight ... Firework tossed into Elmont 7-Eleven ... Family loves cricket

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