Obama sorry over Kamala Harris 'good-looking' comment

Kamala Harris file picture May 2012 Kamala Harris has made sex trafficking and the suffering of young prostitutes a focus of her work

President Barack Obama has apologised to the California attorney general for remarking on her appearance at a fundraising event on Thursday.

Mr Obama described Kamala Harris, a long-time friend, as "the best-looking attorney general in the country".

Ms Harris's spokesman said she strongly supported Mr Obama but would not say whether she had accepted his apology.

Critics have cited the remark as an example of the ongoing hurdles women face in the workplace.

Start Quote

If the compliment police are going to descend every time a pleasantry is offered, well then the heck with 'feminism'”

End Quote Jennifer Rubin Washington Post

Speaking after Ms Harris at the fundraising event in California on Thursday, Mr Obama said she was "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".

Then he added: "She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country... It's true. Come on. And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years."

On Friday, the White House said the president had spoken to the attorney general to apologise for the "distraction" created by his comments.

"He did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities," press secretary Jay Carney said.

He added that the president "fully recognises the challenge women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on appearance".

Writers and bloggers have commented that although the president is a personal friend of Ms Harris and a strong supporter of women's rights, his remarks were inappropriate.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 747.


    "I compliment women at work a lot (I am a woman) on a new dress, hair, new specs, great shoes, fabulous tan - is that sexist? I compliment men at work, might say I like their tie, shirt, looking right dapper today - is that sexist?"

    Probably; but so long as it doesn't influence professional decisions or be-little someone else, only a politically correct fool would mind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    No form of sexism is right, against men or women. I remember living in a time when I wasn't to "worry my pretty little head about things" and being patted on the bum or groped by a sweaty, ugly old man who thought feeling my body was fine because he was senior to me was normal and not to be complained about. I have degrees, I work hard. I am more than a "good looking girl".

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    What is wrong with this statement... i would be rather glad if someone said this about me in private or public!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    It's not offensive, but it is distracting, wrong place, wrong time at the bar afterwards maybe. I work in a professional environment and If I'd just delivered a presentation and it was then acknowledged by a male boss with a crack about my appearance then I would not be happy, end of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    It was inappropriate behaviour from Obama. The woman is there to do a job on merit and her looks have nothing to do with it.


Comments 5 of 11


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