President Obama examines Brad Keselowski's car during a ceremony… (Olivier Douliery / MCT )
WASHINGTON — President Obama vowed Tuesday to get to the bottom of the Boston bomb attacks but kept to his previously planned schedule, saying it is important to carry on.
“We mourn the victims,” Obama said at an event on the South Lawn. “We pray for their loved ones.
“We don’t let such cowardly acts get in the way of our lives,” he said, and then went on with a ceremony honoring the winner of this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Obama’s response to the Boston attack reflects an approach developed over five years in the Oval Office, shaped by past experience in handling terrorism and the chaos that follows an attack.
FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon attack
On Monday, he spoke publicly just three hours after the bombs exploded, as opposed to the three days it took after the Christmas Day 2009 attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight.
Though he didn’t use the word “terror” to describe the Boston attack on Monday, aides did so within hours. Critical reviews of Obama’s handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, focused on whether the president had declared decisively enough in the early hours that the attack was a terrorist one.
This time, Obama spelled out his thinking more explicitly in the early going. On Tuesday morning, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, he said the FBI is investigating the attack “as an act of terrorism.”
“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror,” he said. “What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual.
VIDEO: Boston marathon explosion
“It will take time to follow every lead and determine what happened,” he said, “but we will find out. We will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice.”
Americans show who they are in responding to such tragedies, he said, with the acts of “heroism and kindness, and generosity and love” that people displayed Monday.
“We also know this,” he said, ”the American people refuse to be terrorized.”
Afterward, he hosted lunch for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates in his private dining room.
In the afternoon, he joined a crowd of NASCAR fans on the South Lawn of the White House to honor racer Brad Keselowski.
PHOTOS: Explosions at Boston Marathon
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