Obama tackles rape comments, "fiscal cliff" on TV talk show

Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:46pm EDT
 
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By Jeff Mason

BURBANK, California (Reuters) - President Barack Obama suspended the levity during an interview with late-night TV talk show host Jay Leno on Wednesday to address a Republican Senate candidate's assertion that pregnancies resulting from rape are intended by God and to express confidence that Washington could soon address the looming "fiscal cliff."

"I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition: rape is rape. It is a crime," Obama said on NBC's "The Tonight Show."

"This is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's healthcare."

Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comments that pregnancies caused by rape are "something God intended to happen" echoed across the U.S. media and sent ripples through political circles ahead of the November 6 election.

The Obama campaign, which enjoys leads among women voters in many election battleground states, sought swiftly to connect Mourdock with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. This summer Romney had to distance himself from remarks by another Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin of Missouri, about what he called "legitimate rape."

In an interview full of jokes about marriage, Halloween and other topics, the Democratic president made a few serious comments, mostly about the hottest topic of the election: the economy.

Asked about the so-called fiscal cliff - a combination of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in early next year - Obama said he was confident that a solution could be found before the end of the year.

"Solving this is not that hard. It requires some tough choices," Obama said, adding that some programs had to be cut and tax rates should go up for people making more than $250,000 a year.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to host Jay Leno (R) as he makes an appearance on the Tonight Show in Los Angeles, California October 24, 2012. Obama is on a two-day, eight-state campaign swing. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque