President Obama's comment that Kamala Harris is the "best looking" Attorney General sparked an immediate controversy. Jean Elle reports.
President Barack Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris to apologize after having called her the "best-looking attorney general" during a fundraising event.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday Obama apologized "for the distraction created by his comments." The pair were "old friends and good friends and he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities," Carney said.
In turn, Harris' office said in a statement on Friday that she and Obama have "been friends for many years. They had a great conversation yesterday and she strongly supports him.''
Obama's compliment on Harris' appearance had overshadowed his whirlwind fundraising jaunt in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"She happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country," Obama had said of the rising Democratic star during his prepared remarks at a Democratic National Committee event in Atherton.
On Twitter #KamalaHarris became very popular and the issue sparked immediate national - and local - controversy.
"You know, when I think of accomplished women I don't think about how they look," said Marily Mondejar, president of the Friends of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, who didn't think the remark was appropriate.
But San Francisco County Supervisor London Breed called the comment is accurate: While women are judged by their looks, Harris is proof you can be attractive and tough. Breed said Harris and Obama have a solid freindship and she doesn't believe Harris would be offended by the remark.
In other off-the-cuff remarks, the president also noted Congressman Mike Honda's height (or lack thereof).
He said while introducing Honda, whom he had trouble finding in the crowd, "he's not like a real tall guy, but he's a great guy."
Here is the transcript from the White House of those two introductions:
We've got some elected officials who are doing incredible work -- great friends. First of all, somebody who works tirelessly on behalf of California every day, but also works on behalf of working people and makes sure that we've got a more inclusive America -- a good friend of mine, somebody who you guys should be very proud of, Congressman Mike Honda is here. Where is Mike? (Applause.) He is around here somewhere. There he is. Yes, I mean, he's not like a real tall guy, but he's a great guy. (Laughter.)
Second of all, you have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country -- Kamala Harris is here. (Applause.) It's true. Come on. (Laughter.) And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years.
Below is a special report featuring Harris where she talks about her relationship with the Obamas.
View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.
NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.