WASHINGTON (CNN) –- As the world continues to digest and dissect President Obama’s historic speech directed at the Muslim world, a senior aide to the president is pushing back on the suggestion that Obama’s latest overseas trip amounted to an apology tour.
The president’s criticis “didn’t pay attention to this speech or any of the speeches he’s making,” senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “Embedded in this speech was a very strong explanation, explication of who we are and what we’re all about, our values as a country and our history as a country.”
Axelrod likewise rebuked the suggestion that Obama was critical of his predecessor while addressing the Muslim world from Cairo Thursday.
“Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world,” the president said in Egypt. “September 11th was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable. But in some cases it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals,” Obama also said.
Those comments were not specifically directed at the previous occupant of the Oval Office, Axelrod said Sunday.
Obama “didn’t point a finger at George W. Bush and he didn’t offer those observations to make a political point,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
“He offered them to report candidly on the history of the last few years. That is well understood and well-known . . . you can’t be candid about other people’s actions and responsibilities and not your own.”
“It wasn’t meant to criticize any one person,” Axelrod added. “It was meant to discuss in an open and honest way where we’ve been in order to, as I’ve said, clear away the debris so we can move forward.”
During his appearance on State of the Union, Axelrod also discussed the Obama administration’s plans to jump start the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.