On Letterman, Obama lectures on democracy

Sept. 18, 2012 at 9:35 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama told late-night television kibitzer David Letterman Tuesday people in emerging democracies need to learn tolerance.

While taping the "Late Show" at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Obama said his top priorities are to reinforce security at U.S. embassies around the world and to bring to justice those responsible for the slayings of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. He also said while the anti-Muslim video that set off the violence was offensive, it was no excuse for it.

"But the broader issue here, is there's a lot of change that's taking place in the Middle East and we as Americans always stand on the side of democracy, we want people to have opportunity to determine their own fates, their own destinies, but the message we have to send, I think, to the Muslim world is, we expect you to work with us to keep our people safe," Obama said.

"And in this part of the region, as they emerge, into a new form of government part of what they're going to have to do is to recognize that democracy is not just casting a ballot, it's respecting freedom of speech and tolerating people with different points of view, and it means that you've got to make sure that you never have any excuses for the kind of violence against innocents we saw last week, and that's a message that I've sent very clearly to the leaders of various countries, and we expect their full cooperation, because that's the only way the international order works."

Asked to explain the nation's budget crisis and the governmental imbroglio Americans see from those they send to Washington to deal with the nation's problems, the president declined to pinpoint who is responsible.

"There's more than enough blame to spread around," Obama said. "These problems have been around for a decade or more."

Obama also was in the Big Apple for some fundraising and campaign stumping. About 200 people paid $12,500 apiece to see him speak at the Waldorf Astoria. About 100 supporters were expected for a reception hosted by Jay-Z and Beyonce at the 40/40 Club that cost $40,000 a ticket.

He told the Waldorf Astoria crowd he is "offering a better vision of our country" than his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

"This is my last race, but the stakes couldn't be higher," he said.

"These folks have super PACs that are writing 10 million checks and are going to bury us under advertising like you've never seen before," he said.

"We can't match these people dollar for dollar."

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