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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Obama cancels visit to KU; to speak at memorial service in Boston

April 16, 2013

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In the wake of Monday's bombing in Boston, President Barack Obama has canceled plans for an appearance at Kansas University Friday.

The White House announced the cancellation of the trip Tuesday afternoon in a news release. The president will instead travel to Boston to speak at an interfaith service dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday’s bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Kansas University officials said the cancellation was unfortunate but the reasons for it were understandable.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of this horrible tragedy. While we are disappointed that President Obama will not be on campus, a catastrophe of this type clearly takes precedence,” said Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in a news release. “It was an honor to have been chosen to host the president, and we hope to do so another time.”

Most others who were looking forward to the visit, including KU's Young Democrat group, agreed. "We're definitely disappointed," said senior Evan Gates, who just stepped down as the group’s president as she prepares to graduate. "But he's going where he needs to be."

When, or whether, the president might reschedule a trip to Lawrence was unclear Tuesday, as the White House did not comment on that possibility. The reason for the president's visit was never made public.

While the trip that never was remains somewhat mysterious, it's not unusual for presidents to release little information about travel plans or to cancel them as events unfold, said Bill Lacy, director of KU’s Dole Institute of Politics. Working in the White House in the 1980s, Lacy had the experience himself of seeing travel plans change suddenly after terrorist attacks occurred in the Middle East.

"We may never know," Lacy said. "Even in the White House, people may not know. The president's schedule is driven by national priorities. I'm disappointed for students, but it happens."

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