The president's comments were caught accidentally by a microphone left on during a private conversation with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Barack Obama told Russia's leader Monday that he would have more flexibility after the November election to deal with the contentious issue of missile defense, a candid assessment of political reality that was picked up by a microphone without either leader apparently knowing.
Obama's Republican opponents pounced on the comment, saying the president has a hidden agenda that could include concessions to the Russians if he is re-elected this fall.
"This is my last election," Obama is heard telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. "After my election, I have more flexibility."
Once they were, the White House said Obama's words reflected the reality that domestic political concerns in both the U.S. and Russia this year would make it difficult to fully address their long-standing differences over the contentious issue of missile defense. Obama, should he win re-election, would not have to face voters again.
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