White House press secretary Josh Earnest admitted on Monday that the Obama administration failed to pay the proper respect to French victims of terrorism by withholding high-ranking officials from Sunday’s rally in Paris.
“Some have asked whether or not the United States should’ve sent someone with a higher profile than the ambassador of France,” Earnest said. “And I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile.”
The largest rally in French history, the march drew world leaders from over 40 countries, who together walked arm-in-arm through the streets of Paris in defiance of the Islamic radicals that attacked the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last week.
Earnest explained that President Obama failed to attend the rally due to concerns about his personal safety and the problems the U.S. Secret Service would’ve caused to the crowd. “This is a march, the planning for which only began on Friday night,” he said. “And 36 hours later it had begun . . . the security requirements around a presidential-level visit, or even a vice-presidential visit are onerous and significant.”
Although initially expressing contrition over the White House’s error, the press secretary got snippy after reporters asked about the “wide variety of criticism.”
“Well, criticism from who?” Earnest said, smirking when the reporter mentioned Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz.
“It’s certainly a free country,” the press secretary said. “People have the opportunity to subject their elected officials to criticism, and make it clear when they disagree with a decision or action that’s been taken by the administration.”