’60 Minutes’ interview causes headache for White House
President Obama, in agreeing to a lengthy interview with "60 Minutes," may have created his own "bump in the road."
The president was facing heavy criticism from Republicans Monday for, in the course of that interview, referring to Middle East unrest as "bumps in the road," conceding "mistakes" in campaign ads and appearing to dismiss concern about Iran's nuclear program as "noise."
Romney's campaign seized on all three of those comments, and by Monday afternoon was hammering the president for the Middle East remark -- perhaps in a bid to return the favor after Democrats kept Romney against the wall last week defending his hidden-camera remarks on the "47 percent" of Americans who don't pay taxes. In the CBS interview, Obama said supporting the Arab Spring was the "right thing" to do but acknowledged there would be "bumps in the road" in the process.
"These are no bumps in the road. These are human lives," Romney retorted at a campaign stop in Colorado. On ABC News, Romney also said: "I can't imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was hit with a string of questions at Monday's briefing about the "60 Minutes" interview. The most aggressive accusation by the Romney campaign merited the most aggressive response from Carney.
The accusation about Obama's Middle East comments, Carney said Monday, is "both desperate and offensive."
He rejected the idea that the president was minimizing the recent violence -- in which four Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and others have been killed in the course of raging protests across a number of countries.
"The president was referring to the transformations in the region," Carney said. "There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage and, in this case, that's profoundly offensive."
That wasn't the only line Carney had to carefully explain Monday.
Romney's campaign had also criticized the president for his comments on Israel.