Obama: Syria Deal Not About 'Style'

Emphasizes it was more important to get the policy right
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2013 8:52 AM CDT
Obama: Syria Deal Not About 'Style'
President Obama pauses in the Oval Office, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – The road to the Syria chemical weapons deal may have been bumpy, but President Obama insists that he's "less concerned about style points" and "much more concerned with getting the policy right," he tells George Stephanopoulos this morning on ABC's This Week. “Folks here in Washington like to grade on style,” Obama says. “Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. My entire goal throughout this exercise is to make sure what happened on Aug. 21 does not happen again." The end result, he says, has left the US "definitely in a better position." Other highlights from the interview:

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  • On Vladimir Putin's op-ed: “I don’t think that Mr. Putin has the same values that we do."
  • On Putin's involvement in Syria: “I welcome him being involved. I welcome him saying, ‘I will take responsibility for pushing my client, the Assad regime, to deal with these chemical weapons.' This is not the Cold War. This is not a contest between the United States and Russia.”
  • On the lesson he's sending Iran: “What they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically. I think this new president is not going to suddenly make it easy. But you know, my view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact you can strike a deal.”
  • On 2016, as per Politico: "I think, as you pointed out, I just got reelected last year. My focus is on the American people right now. I'll let you guys worry about the politics."
  • But just in case tongues are wagging anyway: "We are tremendously lucky to have an incredible former secretary of state who couldn't have served me better, and an incredible vice president who couldn't be serving me better. And I suspect if you asked both of 'em, they'd say it's way too premature."
(Read more President Obama stories.)

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