Obama on Leno: president talks terrorism, NSA leaks, and broccoli (+video)
Obama, on Leno for the sixth time, said Americans should still travel but exercise caution, amid an elevated terror threat. Obama and Leno also talked Hillary, McCain, and a certain vegetable Obama claims to love.
Linda Feldmann is a staff writer for the Monitor based in Washington.
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The president urged Americans to go on living their lives but be prudent, amid a week-long closure of 19 US embassies across the Middle East and North Africa over a threat of terrorism. Americans should check with the State Department website before traveling abroad, Mr. Obama said.
“Find out what kind of precautions you should be taking, then I think it still makes sense for people to take vacations,” Obama told Mr. Leno in his sixth appearance on “The Tonight Show.” “They just have to make sure that they're doing so in a prudent way.”
The odds of people dying in a terrorist attack are still a lot lower than in a car accident, the president added.
Obama called the terror threat "significant enough that we're taking every precaution," and denied he was overreacting, in his first public remarks on the embassy closures. He would not reveal if the US learned of the threat through the controversial National Security Agency surveillance program that was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
On the issue of Mr. Snowden, Obama said he was “disappointed” that Russia had granted him temporary asylum. He said he will still attend the G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September. But Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported that Obama had canceled his meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Obama and Mr. Putin have had some famously dour-looking public meetings.
“I mean, look at this picture here,” said Leno, showing a photo. “You two don’t look pretty – you look like me and the NBC executives.”
Leno is retiring from “The Tonight Show” next spring.
Obama and Leno also talked domestic issues, some serious, some light-hearted:
Health-care reform. Leno gave Obama wide berth to promote the implementation of Obamacare, including the start of open enrollment for online marketplaces Oct. 1 for those who do not get insurance through work or government health coverage.
“So you can go to healthcare.gov, and right now you can pre-register essentially and start figuring out is this plan right for you,” Obama said.