House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) excused President Obama’s absence from a Paris march on Sunday because last Wednesday’s terrorist attack there was a “spontaneous” event.
At a news conference with her caucus’ new policy and communications committee today, Pelosi elaborated a bit on Obama’s meeting with “a chunk of” House and Senate Democratic and Republican leadership. She said one of the issues he pressed with leaders was Iran negotiations, likely trying to dissuade them from taking legislative action on sanctions while talks with Tehran drag on.
Pelosi said there was no discussion about Obama’s no-show among nearly 50 world leaders who linked arms in Paris in a show of solidarity against terrorism. “That didn’t come up at the meeting,” she said.
“I think that what happened had a spontaneity to it. And presidential travel was not a spontaneous action. I do think that present there or not, our presence on that issue has been widely felt,” she said.
“I think we in Congress had a moment of silence. Many of us — some of us have spoken on the floor to it. We have spoken in public events, I in my own district on Sunday.”
Those floor speeches have not all been friendly toward Obama’s absence, though. Yesterday Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) propped a large photo of the world leaders in attendance up on the Senate floor, noting “America is nowhere to be seen.”
Pelosi added that “when 9/11 struck, Le Monde said we are all Americans; when Charlie was struck we said we are Charlie.”
“I guess we will close by saying that I mentioned on the floor that we only have two paintings on the floor of the chamber, the House chamber. One is of our patriarch, the great President George Washington, our founder, founding father. And the other is of the Marquis de Lafayette in recognition of the role that France played in our own battle for independence,” she said.
“The strong bond France has been a country that has been on the forefront of liberty, equality, fraternity, and we share those values. And I think whether we were standing there physically, our country is there with the French people.”