Responding to a question about Trayvon Martin and the role of "stand your ground" laws, President Barack Obama compared the young shooting victim to one of his own children. During a press conference on the appointment of Dartmouth president Dr. Jim Yong Kim as the head of the World Bank, Obama called Martin's shooting "a tragedy" and said: "My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and are going to get to the bottom of what happened."
Martin's parents have been speaking out in recent days, calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin in self-defense as part of a neighborhood watch patrol. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, also called for Zimmerman's arrest on the House floor on Thursday, as did thousands of people who joined rallies Wednesday and Thursday to protest Martin's shooting.
For his part, Obama pointed out that since he's the head of the Executive Branch, and therefore the Justice Department reports to him, he didn't want to say anything that could compromise the investigation. Instead, he mostly expressed sympathy over Martin's death. "When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigage every aspect of this." ThinkProgress nabbed some video:
Naturally, such a powerful quote from the president has captured people's imaginations. "Strong comment/strong signal from Obama on Trayvon Martin," tweeted CNBC's John J. Harwood. "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon too," tweeted Tulane professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, adding, "In a hoodie, my daughter looks like Trayvon." Thousands simply retweeted the quote: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
Not everybody was so touched. "The man has no shame," tweeted Heather Fearnside, a prolific tweeter who describes herself as a "proud Navy wife" and a mourner of Andrew Breitbart. "His cynical pandering is obvious to the rest of us," tweeted @RBPundit, a contributor to The Right Sphere and Big Journalism. Conservative author and New York Daily News columnist S.E. Cupp took the high road, tweeting: "Sorry, there are plenty of reasons to criticize Obama. Answering Trayvon question isn't one of them. Right needs to focus, avoid traps."