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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 9th, 2013
05:36 PM ET

Former Obama speechwriter: It took Sandy Hook to get people to act

Jon Favreau, former head speechwriter to President Obama, was a political wunderkind, a twenty-something wordsmith who wrote some of the most memorable speeches of arguably the most eloquent president since John F. Kennedy. Favreau left the White House in March.

Tuesday's mass knife stabbing at a Texas college has already become a Republican talking point - you don't need to have a gun to be a horrible person and wound a lot of people. Comments surfaced on Twitter and the Internet about knife control. 

"The president's message from the very beginning is taking any steps we can to reduce violence anywhere it is, from any source. And that doesn't negate the need for commonsense gun safety measures that can stop someone who shouldn't have a weapon from purchasing one and causing real violence," said Favreau.

President Obama made an impassioned speech in Connecticut Monday, and then flew Newton families to Washington to lobby lawmakers.

"The fact that, you know, so many children were involved affected him very deeply as a father. I know the day that [the Sandy Hook shooting] happened, I saw him and it was one of the hardest days of his presidency. I had never seen him like that," said Favreau. "When he was making edits to the speech he gave in the briefing room that day, he could barely look up from the desk. It affected him that deeply."

But there have been massacres on President Obama's watch before, the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater happened just months before the Sandy Hook attack.

"Before these massacres, sadly, ... it was much harder to build political support. There weren't a ton of questions in the White House Briefing Room about it. There weren't a lot of news stories about it," said Favreau.

It's horrible "that it took this to get people, you know, to really want to act. But, hopefully, we can get something done," added Favreau.

On a lighter note, the 31-year-old has left the White House, and along with consulting and writing op-eds for "The Daily Beast," is working on a screenplay with former spokesman for the National Security Council Tommy Vietor.

"We have talked for quite a while about doing maybe a television series that's loosely based on ... the many different experiences we had over the course of the campaign," said the former speechwriter.

It would be part drama, and part comedy, said Favreau.

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