Sadly, there's nothing new about the acts of violence that have shaken America in recent years, President Obama and Vice President Biden agreed Wednesday in a joint interview with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett.
Both Mr. Obama and Biden had recently addressed communities torn apart by violence -- the president spoke Monday about Sunday's deadly shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas City, Mo., and Biden was in Boston on Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.
"I don't think there's anything new," Mr. Obama said, reflecting on those incidents and other spasms of violence that have claimed lives and headlines since he became president. "Sadly we've seen tragedies like this throughout our history."
"No, I don't think there's anything new," Biden agreed.
And consoling the families of victims and the communities affected, the president said, can be difficult.
"It's rare where you know that you're doing some good," he said. "Because no matter where you go, even if it's areas that didn't vote for you, even if generally people might have different political philosophies, they know that the president's coming to symbolize that the country cares. That America cares. That they're paying attention."
"A lot of times it's heartbreaking," he added. "It does make you think about how can we as a society deal with mental health issues, deal with gun violence issues, deal with the confluence of those two things more effectively. But when you actually go to the events, your first and primary job is just to let families know that they're in, not just our thoughts and prayers but the whole country's thoughts and prayers."
"When I go, I end up internalizing a lot of it because I know when I'm speaking to the families...I know how bittersweet the moment is," Biden explained. "The nation wants to embrace them. And whether it's the day, a year, a month, two months later, whenever it is, they have to relive the whole thing again...and everybody means well and we say, you know, we're gonna honor -- well, what it does is it conjures up the moment it happened for those people."
"I get incredible strength from watching the courage of these people," the vice president said.