U.S. President Barack Obama got caught on a “hot mic” Monday telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he needs room to maneuver and will have “more flexibility” after he is re-elected in November.
The gaffe came following a meeting between the two in Seoul, South Korea, where they were discussing a missile defense system to be installed by NATO in eastern Europe, something about which Russia has expressed major concerns. Moscow believes the system could be used against Russia, even though NATO insists it is focused solely against weaponry fired from Iran.
The American leader privately told Medvedev that incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin must give him “space.”
The dialogue, which went quickly, follows:
President Obama: 'On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space.'
President Medvedev: 'Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you...'
President Obama: 'This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
President Medvedev: 'I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”
Because U.S. presidents can only serve for a maximum of two terms, Obama may not feel as compelled to satisfy his supporters as he was prior to the election, should he remain in the White House -- a fear expressed by many.