Obama Says He's More Worried About a Nuke in NYC Than He Is About Vladimir Putin

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 25 2014 1:18 PM

Obama Says Russia Is Weak and Romney Was Wrong

During a press conference today at this year's Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, ABC News' Jonathan Karl asked President Obama if he thought "Mitt Romney had a point" when he labeled Russia America's top geopolitical foe back in 2012. You can watch Obama's attempt at a two-birds-one-stone response above, but here's the snippet that's getting the most attention:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

"With respect to Mr. Romney's assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that America's got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neigbors—not out of strength, but out weakness.
"Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades, since the break-up of the Soviet Union. And we have considerable influence on our neighbors, we generally don't need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and laid bear these violations of international law indicates less influence not more.
"So my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is: Russia's actions are a problem. They don't pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."
Advertisement

The "nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan" is obviously an attention-getting line, but keep in mind that was, at least partly, an attempt to bring the conversation back to the reason Obama was in the Netherlands in the first place. Calling Russia a "regional power," meanwhile, was a much more direct—and deliberate—shot at Vladimir Putin's ego.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.