President Obama said Friday that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone is Syria was a political move, although he stopped short of calling it a “half-baked” proposal.
“Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems,” Mr. Obama said in response to a reporter’s question. “But I also think that there’s a difference between running for president and being president.”
He added, “The decisions that are being made and the discussions that I’m having with the Joint Chiefs become much more specific and require, I think, a different kind of judgment. And that’s what I’ll continue to apply as long as I’m here.”
Earlier in the news conference, Mr. Obama said critics of his Syria policy were offering alternatives that were mostly “a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.”
Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and Mr. Obama’s former secretary of state, said Thursday that she would advocate as president for a no-fly zone over Syria and “humanitarian corridors” to protect civilians caught in the civil war.
Mr. Obama said of her analysis, “If and when she’s president, she’ll make those judgments. She’s been there enough that she knows that these are tough calls. Hillary Clinton would be the first to say that when you’re sitting in the seat that I’m sitting in the Situation Room, things look a little different,” Mr. Obama said. “Because she’s been right there next to me.”
“We all want to try to relieve the suffering in Syria,” he said. “But my job is to make sure that whatever we do, we are doing in a way that serves the national-security interests of the American people, that doesn’t lead to us getting into things that we can’t get out of or that we cannot do effectively, and as much as possible that we’re working with international partners.”