In an unusually direct and at times tense interview with Denver local news station KUSA, President Barack Obama on Friday admitted on two occasions that he doesn’t know whether the administration denied requests for military assistance by the U.S. Embassy in Libya when it was besieged on Sept. 11.
“Were the Americans under attack at the consulate in Benghazi Libya denied requests for help during that attack? And is it fair to tell Americans that what happened [in Libya] is under investigation and we’ll all find out after the election?” anchor Kyle Clark asked at the top of the interview.
“The election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened,” Obama replied. “Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do. But we want to make sure we get it right.”
“Were they denied requests for help during the attack?” Clark asked again, referring to reports that the U.S. military could have intervened before militants killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. (RELATED VIDEO: Father of slain Navy SEAL accuses White House of murder)
“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened,” Obama repeated. “I guarantee you that everyone in the State Department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened.”
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH KUSA’S KYLE CLARK:
Clark then focused the interview on stimulus spending.
“In a national address, you touted the stimulus money going to Abound Solar – a Colorado company connected to one of your billionaire fundraisers,” Clark began. “Now, as you may know, Abound Solar is out of business and under criminal investigation. The jobs are gone and taxpayers are out about 60 million dollars. How do you answer critics who see Abound Solar as Colorado’s Solyndra – a politically connected clean energy company that went under and took our money with it?”
At that point, beginning to sense the interview would take on an aggressive tone, Obama laughed nervously.
“Well, Kyle, I think that if you look at our record that these loans that are given out by the Department of Energy for clean energy have created jobs all across the country. … And these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics.”
Clark ended with one more question about what he claimed was the president’s apparent hypocrisy.
“Mr. President, you’ve called for more civility in our nation’s political conversation – and much has obviously been made about the tone of this race. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, you called Governor Romney a ‘bullshitter.’ What did you mean and why did you choose that word?”
“You know, this was a conversation after an interview, a casual conversation with a reporter,” Obama said. “The basic point that I’ve been talking about throughout this campaign, is people know what I mean and they know that I mean what I say and what I care about, who I’m fighting for and you know a major issue in any election is can you count on the person you’re putting into the Oval Office fighting for you having a clear set of convictions that they believe in.”
The uncomfortable interview was unusual, given that the president rarely allows the press the opportunity to ask him tough questions. According to ABC, a university professor found that Obama has been less accessible to the media — both at informal press pool events and press conferences — than his predecessors.
In some ways, the Friday interview resembled the widely publicized grilling Vice President Joe Biden received in 2008 at the hands of a local Florida news anchor. (RELATED VIDEO: Biden asked whether President Obama is a Marxist)
In that interview, which took place just prior to Election Day in 2008, Biden also laughed off many of the anchor’s aggressive — and, according to many observers, loaded — inquiries. At one point, an exasperated Biden remarked, “Is that a joke?” and “I don’t know who’s writing your questions.”