President Obama gave his first press conference of the new year Tuesday, and Iran, the campaign, and Rush Limbaugh were high on everyone's minds. While the White House previewed the conference by heralding a new plan to allow those with federally backed mortgages to refinance with better rates, and Obama spoke about the plan to open the conference, questions immediately transitioned to foreign policy.
His most notable criticims of the Republicans competing in Super Tuesday contests today came in response to a question on Romney's criticism of Obama's policy in Iran:
Now what's said on the campaign trail, those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, i'm reminded of the costs involved in war. I'm reminded of the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle and the impact that has on their lives, the impact that has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy. This is not a game and there's nothing casual about it.
On another front, though, he didn't take the election bait. A reporter pointed out that Mitt Romney said Obama is America's "most feckless president since Carter," and asked Obama what he'd say to Romney in response. "Good luck tonight," Obama replied before laughing awkwardly and moving on to the new question. Perhaps the fecklessness of that answer was ironic?
He was also asked to comment on the Rush Limbaugh affair, and the camera shutters started clicking as soon as a reporter says the word "Rush." Obama declined to comment on Limbaugh's loss of sponsors, but said he had his own daughters in mind when he reached out to Sandra Fluke by phone last week. Quoth Obama:
I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse. And you know the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens.
Here's to hoping he gets his wish.