From ABC News:
President Obama today stood by his comments that the Cambridge, Mass., police department acted "stupidly" in its arrest of Henry Louis Gates, telling ABC News that the Harvard University professor should not have been arrested.
President says he doesn't regret his criticism of Cambridge police department.
"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.
In an exclusive interview with ABC's Terry Moran to air on "Nightline" tonight, Obama said it doesn't make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.
"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president told Moran. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."
At this point, Axelrod must have been feeling a bit better about Obama getting back on script.
The president said he understands the sergeant who arrested Gates is an "outstanding police officer."
Good, thinks the President's handler, Now just wrap it up, get back to health care, and you can go smoke a whole pack of Lucky Strikes.
But he added that with all that's going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, "it doesn't make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance."
Oh, noooooooo! What with all that's going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, what doesn't make any sense is for my client, the President of the United States of America, to get publicly obsessed over a local police incident!
By the way, if you want to understand why Obama slips loose from Axelrod's master plan and does these kind of self-destructive things every now and then, please buy my reader's guide to the President's memoir, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance."
Cambridge Police Department Commissioner Robert C. Haas said in a press conference late Thursday that his department was "deeply pained" by the president's comments yesterday.