WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will keep the spotlight on gun violence in his weekly address on Saturday, but he's going to have someone else deliver it: Francine Wheeler, whose six-year-old son was killed in the Newtown, Conn., shootings.
"Nobody has a more important or powerful perspective" in the gun debate than the families of victims, White House press Secretary Jay Carney said at his Friday briefing. With the Senate poised to take up its gun bill next week, the president decided Wheeler would make a better spokesperson on the issue, Carney said.
It's highly unusual for Obama to pass off his weekly address to someone else. The only other time it has happened, according to Carney, was when Vice President Joe Biden gave the address while Obama was out of the country.
Wheeler is one of 11 family members of Newtown victims in Washington, D.C., this week lobbying senators to pass the gun bill next week. Her son, Ben, was one of 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the most vocal advocates of passing a gun control package, has talked about Ben in remarks on the Senate floor and tweeted about him.
"Ben Wheeler was a pianist, loved riding the train, and idolized his big brother Nate. #voicesofvictims," Murphy tweeted Thursday.