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Obama apologises to Kamala Harris for 'sexist remark'

By Lalit K Jha
April 06, 2013 17:48 IST
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United States President Barack Obama has apologised to Kamala Harris, the California attorney general, for describing the Indian-American as the “best-looking attorney general” of America.

Obama called Harris on Friday night to apologise for both his remarks and the “distraction” that it caused, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"The President did speak with Attorney General Harris after he came back from his trip, and he called her to apologise for the distraction created by his comments. And you know, they are old friends and good friends, and he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities," Carney said.

He was responding to questions on the comments made by Obama about Harris at a Democratic fund raiser in California, where he praised the 48-year-old.

"She is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you would want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake," Obama said while praising Harris, who is the first women and first Indian-American to be elected as the attorney general of California.

"She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country -- Kamala Harris is here," Obama had said amidst applause.

"It's true. Come on," he said amidst laughter.

"She is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years," said the US President, which soon became a buzzword on the social media and a point for criticising Obama.

"I think I made it clear that he apologised for creating this distraction and believes very strongly that Attorney General Harris is an excellent attorney general and that she has done great work, and she is dedicated and tough and brilliant," Carney said.

"I would note that he called her, in those same comments, brilliant, dedicated and tough, and she is all those things. She has been a remarkably effective leader as the attorney general. She is a key player in the mortgage settlement, which will help many, many middle-class families who are struggling to deal with the mortgage situation in this country,” he said.

“He believes and fully recognises the challenges women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on their appearance," Carney said.

Politico pointed out that certainly Obama meant no insult, but in singling out Harris for her looks, the US President joins a long list of public figures who just can't seem to let an attractive woman's looks go without comment.

Last year, Republican Attorney General candidate David Freed said Democratic opponent Kathleen Kane's strengths were that she is "pretty and has a lot of money," according to Pennsylvania's Daily Review.

Obama came under some fire back in 2008 when he referred to a female reporter as "sweetie", ABC News reported.

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Lalit K Jha
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