Obama Dismisses Republican Rivals on 'Tonight Show' (Video)

3:54 PM PST 10/25/2011 by Tina Daunt
NBC

In an interview taped Tuesday, the president says he hasn't been watching the GOP debates: “I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island," he quips to laughter and applause.

In an interview taped Tuesday morning for broadcast on that night's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, President Barack Obama told the talk show host that he has not been watching the debates among his prospective Republican rivals.

“I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island,” the president quipped to laughter and applause.

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On a more serious note, Obama told Leno that he believes Americans are weary of the congressional Republicans’ reflexive opposition to his legislative program. “Look, I think the things that folks across the country are most fed up with, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, is putting party ahead of country or putting the next election ahead of the next generation,” the president said.

Similarly, when Leno asked Obama how he felt about GOP criticism of his decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of the year, the chief executive replied, “It's shocking that they opposed something I proposed.”

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Asked by Leno for his reaction to the execution of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi by insurgents in that country, Obama mused: “Well, this is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism. And he had an opportunity during the Arab spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn't do it. 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.”

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Though Obama did not say so, the latter comment seemed aimed at Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is locked in a violent struggle with reform-minded dissidents in his country.  In the customary monologue preceding his conversation with Obama, Leno quipped that the president’s visit to the show -- his second since his election was part of an effort to raise money “for a huge disaster relief project. It’s called NBC. We can’t let another corporation go under.”

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