President Barack Obama, speaking in somber tones from the White House press briefing room, talked of drawing inspiration in his own life from Mandela's. "My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics," he said, "was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. ... I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example Nelson Mandela set, and as long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him."