— BOSTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sought to inspire a stricken city and comfort an unnerved nation Thursday, declaring that Boston "will run again" and vowing to hunt down the perpetrator of the twin blasts that brought mayhem and death to the Boston Marathon.
"If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us ... It should be pretty clear right now that they picked the wrong city to do it," Obama said.
The president spoke at an interfaith service in Boston honoring the three people killed and more than 170 injured when a pair of bombs ripped through the crowd gathered Monday afternoon near the finish line of the famous race.
"We may be momentarily knocked off our feet," Obama said. "But we'll pick ourselves up. We'll keep going. We will finish the race."
"This time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon," he declared.
Obama spoke as his second-term as president is increasingly burdened by terror, politics, and disaster. In the aftermath of Boston's deadly blasts Monday, Obama lost a fight for gun control measures in the Senate, was the target, along with a U.S. senator, of letters that showed traces of poisonous ricin, and awoke Thursday to news of a powerful fertilizer plant explosion that devastated a small Texas town.
The letters alone -- one addressed to Obama and another to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. -- evoked eerie parallels to the anthrax attacks that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Authorities arrested a Mississippi man Wednesday in connection with the letters.
It was against that backdrop that Obama and his wife, Michelle, came to Boston Thursday morning, joining a crowd at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for a "Healing Our City" service. The Obamas sat at the front of the church next to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as the service began.