At a fundraiser on Thursday, President Obama commented on the looks of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, cuing laughs, applause, and quite a few groans.
“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” he said, according to the White House transcript. “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country–Kamala Harris is here. (Applause.) It’s true. Come on. (Laughter.) And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.”
“I’m sure he meant to pay a compliment to her and meant to be nice but, quite frankly, it divides women to separate them by looks and probably was a little ham-fisted,” Morning Joe host Mika Brzezsinksi said. “I think the whole dynamic about women and their looks puts women under a lot of stress that they don’t need and they should be sort of talked about by their qualities at work, especially when he is introducing someone because she is the attorney general.”
“I think he made a mistake,” she finished.
It isn’t the first overly-familiar remark that’s gotten the president into hot water–in 2008, he called a female ABC reporter “sweetie,” and promptly apologized.
“If she is offended by it, then I’ve got an issue. If not, then I don’t,” msnbc’s Joe Scarborough remarked. “The guy was joking! I mean come on, the guy was joking! If she has an issue with it and if people are going to treat her less seriously today than they did yesterday, then yes there is a problem.”
“Are they going to treat him less seriously today than they did yesterday?” msnbc’s Richard Wolffe asked.
Looks aside, Harris joined the Morning Joe crew late last month to discuss the Supreme Court hearing of California’s Proposition 8. Watch below.
Update: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday that Obama called Harris on Thursday night and apologized.