President Obama has fallen under attack from the Republican National Committee and the GOP presidential candidates after a live microphone picked up a private conversation in which he asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for “space” and “patience” on the missile defense issue until after November’s election.
Today, Obama hit back at his critics. “I think everybody understands — if they don’t, they haven’t been listening to my speeches — that I want to reduce nuclear stockpiles,” Obama said today. “And one of the barriers to doing that is building trust and cooperation around missile defense issues. And so this is not a matter of hiding the ball,” said Obama, in remarks delivered on the final day of the nuclear security summit in South Korea.
Obama took on his critics’ charges that his comments to Medvedev showed weakness on nuclear security and pointed to the political realities of the campaign season as severely limiting his ability to move forward on major policy initiatives, telling reporters:
[T]he only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support, and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.
I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours [about the open mic incident] is pretty good evidence of that.
Yet the GOP will try to make something out of Obama’s rather innocuous comments. Hours after Obama’s exchange with Medvedev, the Republican National Committee produced a new video asking “what else is on Obama’s agenda after the election that he isn’t telling you?” and Mitt Romney said of Obama and his open mic comments, “I don’t think he can recover from it, to tell you the truth.”