President Obama made a quick stop in San Bernardino on Friday night to meet with some of the families of the victims of the county Christmas party terrorist attack.
Obama landed in the Inland Empire after 7:30 p.m. and was met at the airport by Mayor Carey Davis. He and Michelle Obama then motorcaded to Indian Springs High School. The White House pool report noted “onlookers and a handful of protesters lined the route.”
He stayed for almost three hours before hopping on Air Force One, headed for Honolulu for his two-week vacation.
“It was so moving for Michelle and myself in part because it was so representative of the country,” Obama said after the meeting. “You had people from every background, every faith. Some described their loved ones who had come to this country as immigrants; others who had lived in the area all their lives — all of them extraordinarily proud of the work they were doing to keep people healthy and safe here in this community.”
“And as difficult as this time is for them and for this entire community, they’re also representative of the strength and the unity and the love that exists in this community and in this country,” he said. “And as we go into the holiday season, even as we are vigilant about preventing terrorist attacks from happening, even as we insist that we can’t accept the notion of mass shootings in public places and places of work and worship, we have to remind ourselves of the overwhelming good that exists out there.”
The president added that “despite the pain and the heartache” that families are feeling, “they could not have been more inspiring, and more proud of their loved ones, and more insistent that something good comes out of this tragedy.”
“And many of them are already taking initiatives to reach out, to speak out on behalf of community and tolerance and treating people with respect,” he said. “Many were interested in how we can prevent shootings like this from happening in the future.”
That was a likely allusion to gun-control measures which are expected soon by executive order.
At his year-end press conference Friday, Obama vowed he’s “not gonna be forward-leaning on what I can do without Congress before I’ve tested what I can do with Congress” — referring to his executive actions “on a whole bunch of issues, like immigration.”
Within a few hours of leaving San Bernardino, Obama “ditched his coat and tie” and was on the ground in Hawaii.