Obama On ‘Tonight Show’ With Jay Leno

Obama On Leno – President Barack Obama, appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, defended the U.S. role in bringing down Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, rejecting assessments that the international coalition he helped assemble amounted to “leading from behind.” ”We lead from the front,” Obama told Jay Leno on Tuesday.

Laying out an argument for his emerging foreign policy doctrine, the President distinguished the U.S. steps in Libya from the invasion and nine-year war in Iraq. He argued that by building a broad international alliance of European and Arab nations against Gadhafi, the United States saved American lives and money and achieved its goal.

“Not a single U.S. troop was on the ground,” he said. “Not a single U.S. troop was killed or injured, and that, I think, is a recipe for success in the future.”

Nudged by Leno in a notably sober first segment, Obama reflected on the meaning of Gadhafi’s death, a gruesome and chaotic demise recorded on cell phone video for all the world to see. The president argued that Gadhafi had had an opportunity to let Libya move on a path toward democracy peacefully.

“He wouldn’t do it,” Obama said. “And, obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people.”

Obama’s appearance on the Leno program, taped extra early at NBC studios to satisfy his schedule, is his fourth on the show and his second as president. The appearance came in the middle of a lucrative three-day fundraising tour for the president even as he tries to bring attention to the plight of people suffering in a weak economy.

The interview covered a range of topics, from foreign policy to Obama’s jobs bill to television watching. The first segment, free of jokes or chitchat, focused on Libya, Iraq and al-Qaida.

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