Obama says sorry to 'best-looking attorney general'
A day after causing a stir by calling Indian-American Kamala Harris as "by far the best-looking attorney general", President Barack Obama apologised to her for remarks that some branded sexist.
Obama spoke to California's top law officer Thursday night after he came back from his trip to the state where he made the "offending" remark at a fundraiser for his Democratic Party Thursday.
"She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough... She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general," Obama said according to a transcript provided by the White House only to cause a nationwide flutter among the chatteratti.
"The president did speak with Attorney General (Kamala) Harris last night after he came back from his trip," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday. "He called her to apologise for the distraction created by his comments."
"They are old friends and good friends and he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities, and I would note that he called her in those same comments brilliant, dedicated and tough. She is all those things," Carney said.
Obama "fully recognizes the challenges women continue to face in the workplace," he added.
Harris' communications director Gil Duran said in a statement, "The Attorney General and the President have been friends for many years. They had a great conversation yesterday and she strongly supports him."
Harris, 48, daughter of an Indian mother and an African-American father, became the first woman and first Indian-American to be elected as California's top law official in 2010, after serving as district attorney in San Francisco.
A rising star of Democratic Party, she has a law degree from the University of California and went to college at Howard. Her tenure in law enforcement has included a tough stance on hate crimes, and the unusual prosecution of parents of truant children.
Obama should have focused on those attributes rather than her looks, critics said.