Minutes after issuing a stern warning to Russia and saying there will be a price to pay if it interferes militarily in Ukraine, President Obama headed to a “happy hour” with fellow Democrats.
Speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Obama struck a very different tone than he had less than 30 minutes earlier, when he appeared with little warning in the White House press briefing room and issued a vague threat to Moscow.
“Well, it’s Friday. It’s after 5 o’clock. So, this is now officially happy hour with the Democratic party,” the president told his cohorts. “I can do that. It is an executive action. I have the authority.”
An audience member then asked the president to “tell us about your plans for nuclear war with Russia.”
“What the heck are you talking about?” Mr. Obama said to laughter and applause. “No, no, don’t worry about it. We’re OK. Have a seat. I don’t know anything about that plan. I don’t know what you’ve been reading. Let me return to what I was talking about. See, he thought happy hour started earlier.”
The Washington fundraiser had been scheduled for some time, long before the situation in Ukraine unraveled to its current point.
Still, Mr. Obama’s words and demeanor in the White House couldn’t have been more different than they were at the party fundraiser across town.
In the White House, Mr. Obama issued a firm admonition to Russian Vladimir Putin and said Moscow must respect Ukraine’s borders.
“Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world [if it invades or otherwise meddles militarily in Ukraine],” the president said. “And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at email@example.com.
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