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Mother of Sandy Hook victim asked to speak in weekly presidential address

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President Obama has asked the mother of a victim of December’s school shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., to speak in this week’s presidential address.

White House press secretary Jay Carney made the announcement Friday, a day after the U.S. Senate voted 68-31 to move forward on gun legislation, setting up the first major floor battle on the issue in a decade.

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“[A]s we continue to debate common-sense measures to reduce gun violence and save lives, one thing that has been very clear is that nobody has a more important or powerful perspective on the issue than the families who have lost loved ones because of the scourge of gun violence,” Mr. Carney said.

Members of the victims’ families looked on from the Senate gallery during the vote Thursday, and have been meeting with lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue.

“As you know, the president has been in regular contact this week with the families of victims of the [Dec. 14] shootings, and he believes their voices and resolve have been critical to the continued progress we’ve seen in the Senate,” Mr. Carney said. “With that in mind, the president has asked Francine Wheeler, who lost her 6-year-old son Ben on that terrible day, to speak to the American people in this week’s weekly address.”

The move is certainly eyebrow-raising, but not unprecedented: Vice President Joseph R. Biden has given the weekly address at least once, on Nov. 5, 2011. Mr. Obama was attending a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, that week.

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