After five years in office, Barack Obama is finally starting to receive some questions he would prefer not to.
At a press conference on Tuesday in The Netherlands, where he was visiting, for a nuclear summit, Obama was teleprompter-less.
The focus of the press conference quickly shifted to the president’s Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential election – Mitt Romney.
A question from Jonathan Karl of ABC News must have thrown him completely off-track. Karl asked the president if he thought “Mitt Romney had a point” when he said America’s “number one” geopolitical foe was Russia.
That referred to the 2012 Romney statement that had liberal pundits foaming at the mouth, including Chris Matthews who said “I don’t know what decade this guy is living in…”
Karl’s question clearly took Obama by surprise, and his body language changed, and he didn’t really answer the question.
Karl’s question was “In China, in Syria, in Egypt, and now in Russia we’ve seen you make strong statements, issue warnings that have been ignored. Are you concerned that America’s influence in the world – that your influence in the world – is on the decline? And in light of recent developments, do you think Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe…”
This question was in reference to the way Russia has been acting in the past few years, especially the annexation of Crimea last week, and also to the 2012 presidential campaign when Romney said Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” Romney was roundly criticized for that statement. Two years on, the invasion of the Crimea gives the Romney statement some credibility.
Not much response from the left-side pundits now!
Obama’s weak response was, “We may not act militarily, but that does not mean that we don’t steadily push against those forces that would violate those principles and ideals we care about.”
That didn’t really address the question.
Obama went on … “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness.”
“We have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more. My response then (to Romney) continues to be what I believe today, which is: Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States.”
What concerns Obama the most, more than what Russia is doing in Crimea, with Iran, and with Syria, is “the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
There is a good reason the president’s handlers do not like unrehearsed press conferences with no script and no teleprompter.
Jonathan Karl’s name is probably mud, around the White House now.