David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, appeared on "Hardball" tonight to discuss Obama's press conference earlier this afternoon. Two core issues which Axelrod addressed are the ongoing turbulence in Iran and the push to get substantial health care reform passed in Congress.
On Iran, Axelrod reiterated that Obama is choosing his words carefully so as to not hand the regime a propaganda tool and an external reason to crack down further on the demonstrators. The situation in the beginning, Axelrod said, in which you had a disputed election, has changed over the the past week to one in which there are people "dead in the streets," which is why the President felt the need to respond further.
However, he stated that, as the president, Obama must be more circumspect with his remarks than those GOP senators criticizing him for not using more forceful rhetoric:
Presidents have to think long. When they're doing their job they have to think long. They can't react to the provocation of the moment in ways that might really disastrous impacts down the line. I think this President is very sensitive to that and therefore very considered about what he says and when he says it.
He said that the situation in Iran is one that is an internal struggle not involving outsiders, although he noted that that the President condemned violence against protesters. During the presser Obama called the brutal video showing the murder of the of the now-iconic young Iranian woman Neda "heartbreaking."
Axelrod, while noting to a certain extent that you must always look at the bigger picture, separated the election turmoil from the issue of Iran's nuclear program, explaining:
That's a different issue than the nuclear issue, which continues. It's the same today as it was yesterday. As you know, it's the Supreme Leader who dictates foreign and defense policies there, so the situation is pretty much the same as it's been, and we're going to pursue every avenue we can to try and forestall Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
Regarding health care, Matthews asked him if "it's better to get some bill on health care this year than none." Axelrod demurred:
I wouldn't say that because I think, as the President made clear, if we don't have a health care reform that genuinely cuts cost, that preserves choice for people, and that insures the tens of millions working Americans who don't have health insurance, or gives them a chance to buy affordable health insurance, then that will have been a failure. I think under that umbrella there are many permutations we're willing to consider.
Matthews also asked Axelrod if he noticed "a little towel snap towards the president" in Fox News reporter Major Garrett's questioning of the president's public stance on Iran: "What took you so long?" Axelrod dryly replied, "Well, I don't think it was a warm embrace. I'll concede that."
Watch the interview below.