WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly refused to say whether President Barack Obama believes that the Iranian government is "elected and legitimate" as stated by his nominee for Secretary of Defense earlier Thursday.
Chuck Hagel said in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran has an "elected and legitimate government" noting that many American allies maintain embassy's there. The comments were instantly blasted by Republicans who noted widespread accusations of fraud and intimidation during the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.
"Excuse me, can you ask that again?" Carney responded when a reporter asked if Obama agrees with his nominee.
"Our views on the last presidential election were clearly expressed," he added, before criticizing Iran for continuing to violate United Nations resolutions mandating it halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Later, Carney was asked again if Obama believes that the Iranian government is elected and legitimate. He responded by again criticizing "the government that we are dealing with" as "continuing unacceptable behavior."
Asked a third time, Carney again declined to be specific about Obama's beliefs, saying of the Iranian government that "it's the government that we deal with...[whose] behavior is illegitimate."