October 18th, 2012
06:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama talks Libya on 'Daily Show'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration's handling of the Libya consulate attack, telling Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" that he will ultimately fix any problems involving security for diplomatic posts.

"The government is a big operation and any given time, something screws up," he said in the interview to air Thursday night. "And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."

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Stewart pressed the president on the aftermath of the terror attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. consulate in Benghazi last month. The administration has faced scrutiny over why the post was not more robustly staffed with security.

The comedian said the administration's response did not play out in an "optimal" way.

"I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page," Stewart said.

The president replied: "When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it."

That remark sparked tough backlash from Republicans, who said it revealed a flip attitude toward the tragedy.

“Even from someone like the president, who has never known what these kinds of tragedies are about and the service and sacrifice that people make, it’s still just – I can’t even get angry,” McCain said on Fox News. “It’s just so inappropriate. And I’m sure that the families of those brave Americans are not amused.”

In Obama's interview, his second appearance on the show since taking office and sixth overall, Obama said his number one priority was the safety of Americans.

READ MORE: Romney presses Libya attack response after debate

"And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency," he said.

When Stewart asked about "confusion" over the Benghazi attack, the president laid out what he learned from the situation.

"(We) weren't confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed. I wasn't confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened. I wasn't confused about the fact that we had to investigate exactly what happened so it gets fixed. And I wasn't confused about the fact that we're going to hunt down whoever did it," the president said.

The show, however, was not without its lighter moments. Stewart joked that he was making a scrapbook and pulled out a pair of photos of the two presidential debates, according to pool reports. In one photo, Obama's wife, Michelle, is looking at the president angrily; in the other photo, she's smiling.

"Do you know which debate was which?" Stewart asked, poking fun at the president's widely panned debate performance at the first showdown earlier this month.

"Cute. Cute Jon," Obama said, smiling.

Filed under: 2012 • Jon Stewart • Libya • President Obama
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Leslie Ann Warren

    I Mean't Bypartisan Not Partisan!!

    October 18, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Mick

    Knowing that the attack was done by a terrorist group and the administration was still going on and on blaming on the anti muslim video for over a week. The lying and trying to cover up are just disgrace to the nation.

    October 18, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  3. Davia55

    OMG add that to your list of promises

    October 18, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. luckjoe

    Obama can make the talk the talk show circuit with spin his B.S. It is time for him to pack up and go back to Chicago, Hawaii or Kenya.

    October 18, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  5. billNY

    that' a great place for news..how about you run the country into the ground a little more before you are removed.

    October 18, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. Jeb

    Obama 2012!!

    October 18, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. organically

    Democrats must focus on environmental issues, where democrats have a huge advantage. If Republicans win the majority in the senate, the chair of the Senate environment committee goes to Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, who will dismantle every environmental program and regulation in the entire country. Inhofe/ Romney/Ryan have said over and over again that they want to abolish significant environmental regulations, programs, and government agencies that protect your environment to create unspecified tax cuts and jobs. This will result in no services on public lands, dirtier waterways, increased air pollution, contaminated drinking water, elimination of endangered species protection, reduced public control of hazardous waste, and continued denial of climate change and it’s threat to humanity. Do you want to rollback half a century of environmental progress that has given you quality of life and has contributed to the increased human life span? Are you listening to your party leaders?

    October 18, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Bankrupt1

    didn't they hire the british to watch the embassy?

    October 18, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Chazzmaster

    In my opinion. Its the responsibility of whoever is in charge of security for the embassys overseas.
    If the President of the United States says that the Buck stops with him ! Enough said! !!!!!!

    October 18, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. Lisa

    I've always wondered how a president gets any actual work done when he's running for re-election and spends about 3 years out of his 4-year term campaigning for the next election and not tending to the business at-hand.

    October 18, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. done

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    October 18, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. Ugh

    I'm amazed stewart could even speak with his crush in the room.

    October 18, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Brian

    "Four Americans being killed is not optimal"., says the man who claims his opponent has no heart. Mr. President your tenure has not been optimal.

    October 18, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. Liz

    Pres.Obama has time for the talk shows, but no time to address the American Voters, or hold a press conference on the Libya tragedy. Four men are dead, did Pres.Obama deny them re-inforcements? President Obama should be impeached. Where was he when the attack took place? Why were are troops denied help? I will only vote for an American for President.

    October 18, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Pat

    "When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal." The only joke here is our president. Can't wait until November!

    October 18, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. pj jackson

    Uh Huh,it's not "optimal" when four US citizens are killed?? Let's get back to the binders talk,CNN.

    October 18, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  17. RF Burns

    It would be nice if Obama would spend as much time dealing with the problems he was elected to address than appearing on The View, Letterman and orther moronic shows. What's next, The Simpsons?

    October 18, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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