Photo: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
President Barack Obama took one of his first swings at his Republican opponents on Sunday, criticising Rep. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain for supporting the use of waterboarding.In an afternoon press conference at the APEC summit in Hawaii, Obama was read comments from the two aspiring presidents, and set aside his vow not to comment on the Republican race until they have a nominee to categorically defend his administration’s stance on the issue:
“Let me just say this: They’re wrong. Waterboarding is torture,” he said. “It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice. “
“If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that’s not something we do — period.”
But Obama refused to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for criticising his record dealing with Iran, saying only that it’s a complicated issue — and anyone who says otherwise “is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
Obama also reset expectations on his stalled American Jobs Act, saying for the first time that the American people will likely have to wait until after the 2012 election — if not longer — before his jobs package is passed.
“I’m going to keep on pushing,” he said. My expectation is, is that we will get some of it done now, and I’ll keep on pushing until we get all of it done. And that may take me all the way to November to get it all done. And it may take a new Congress to get it all done.”
He hinted that if Congress doesn’t act, there will likely be new leadership — a hint, though not an outright prediction, that he believes Democrats could retake the House of Representatives:
“And my expectation is, is that we will just keep on chipping away at this. If you’re asking me do I anticipate that the Republican leadership in the House or the Senate suddenly decide that I was right all along and they will adopt a hundred per cent of my proposals, the answer is, no, I don’t expect that. Do I anticipate that at some point they recognise that doing nothing is not an option? That’s my hope. And that should be their hope, too, because if they don’t, I think we’ll have a different set of leaders in Congress.”
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