The White House was at first prudent and hesitated to comment on the issue, the president reportedly ignoring NBC News' Kristen Welker when she asked after he emerged this afternoon from the Oval Office whether he knew anything about the crash.
But as the situation began to unfold and more details became available, President Obama decided later during a campaign-style speech in Delaware to deliver a few quick remarks on the tragedy -- 40 seconds worth.
“Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now, we're working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard. That is our first priority,” he said.
“And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home,” he added.
His remarks were later followed by repeated attacks on the Republican Party, jokes and more calls for increased infrastructure spending to repair the country's “roads and bridges.”
“When we invest in infrastructure we're making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century. That's what right now Republicans in Congress don't seem to be focused on. But until they do get focused on it, I'm going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own,” he said.
“[M]y administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won't act. And so far, the only response we've gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit,” he added, referring to the recent lawsuit brought against him by Republican lawmakers. “They're suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job. That's disappointing. It's a political stunt.”
The president, who should have either held a separate press conference to discuss the downed jet or issued a standalone statement, then took off for a New York to attend two private Democratic fundraisers.
Meanwhile, back in the nation's capital, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered a more somber and serious comment on loss of human life in Ukraine.
“Many innocents were killed today,” Boehner said. “It is horrifying and we await the facts. Right now, we should all take a moment to reflect, count our blessings, and convey our prayers to the ones of the victims.”
Absent from Boehner's remarks are attacks on his political opponents, campaign-style pitches and punchlines.
The president's scheduled fundraisers in New York are closed to the press.