President Obama Thursday evening telephoned California Attorney General Kamila Harris to apologize for a remark he made at a fundraiser in the state earlier in the day complimenting her on her looks.
“He apologized for the remark,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “He apologized for creating this distraction.”
Carney said Obama did not want the reference to her appearance to “diminish the attorney general’s accomplishments and her capabilities,” noting Obama said he believed Harris has done “great work” and is “dedicated and tough.”
Carney sought to make the comment appear a little less controversial by noting that Obama and Harris are old and good friends, suggesting it was kind of joshing between people who know each other well.
Obama acted fast to stomp out an incipient PR crisis. The Washington Post ran a piece this morning – which the White House was likely aware of last night – dredging up old charges that the White House is a “boys club” with a hostile environment toward women.
A Harris spokesman told Politico that all was cool with her. “The attorney general and the president have been friends for many years,” Harris Communications Director Gil Duran said in a statement e-mailed to POLITICO. “They had a great conversation yesterday and she strongly supports him.”