*President Barack Obama landed in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon to press his agenda — especially concerning the roll out of ObamaCare — over a two-day visit.
In Burbank Tuesday afternoon, the chief executive taped his sixth appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and this morning, he’s set to take housing questions as part of an online forum with the real estate website Zillow.com. Afterward, Obama will travel south to Camp Pendleton for private meetings with Marines who have served in Afghanistan and members of their families.
On the flight out from Washington earlier Tuesday, White House press Secretary Jay Carney explained that Obama decided to appear on Leno’s show to communicate with Americans who are “not necessarily readers of newspapers or wire services or necessarily the viewers of cable or broadcast news shows.”
“Some of his most substantive interviews have appeared in non-traditional settings so you never know what you might get,” Carney told reporters.
During the taping of the “Tonight Show,” Leno asked Obama about the “bromance” brewing between him and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The President praised his one-time rival for speaking his mind. “That’s how a classic romantic comedy goes. Initially you’re not getting along and then you keep bumping into each other,” Obama joked, according to a pool report.
When asked about his recent lunch with Hillary Clinton, the President said: “She had that post administration glow.” Leno asked if Clinton was measuring the drapes in the Oval Office. Obama laughed and said: “Keep in mind she’s been there. She doesn’t have to measure them.”
On more serious topics, the chief executive told Leno that he did not expect the Russians’ recent spate of discriminatory legislation against gays and lesbians to have any impact on the Sochi Winter Olympics. (The Russians have said that none of the anti-gay measures will be enforced against foreign athletes participating.)
“I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure that the Olympics work, and I think that they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently,” Obama said. “They are athletes. They are there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”
Obama prefaced his statement by saying he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
Questioned about relations in the wake of the Edward Snowden controversy, the president said he will attend the upcoming G-20 Summit in Vladimir Putin’s hometown St. Petersburg, despite American “disappointment” over the Russians’ decision to grant the former National Security Agency contractor-turned serial leaker asylum in their country. Obama said the United States and Russian continue to work together on issues touching on Afghanistan and the Boston marathon bombing.
“There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality. What I continually say to them and to President Putin is that’s the past.”
Obama defended the surveillance programs whose details were leaked by Snowden, saying the operations are “a “critical component to counterterrorism.” But, he said, he knows that the surveillance programs have “raised a lot of questions for people. . .We don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack…That information is useful.”
Obama also spoke about the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, which saw George Zimmerman acquitted in the killing of the Florida teenager. Obama spoke about the verdict at an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room July 19.
“I think all of us were troubled by what happened, and any of us who are parents can imagine the heartache that those parents went through. It doesn’t mean that Trayvon was a perfect kid. None of us were,” Obama told Leno. “When you’re a teenager, especially a teenage boy, you’re going to mess up, and you won’t always have the best judgment. But what I think all of us agree to is that we should have a criminal justice system that’s fair, that’s just.”
More clips: Obama on some of the health care changes rolling out, beginning Oct. 1…
…and the travel warnings..