President Obama sighed audibly at a question about his policy toward the Islamic State terrorist organization on Wednesday. The president said he had a “lot of things on my plate,” but that defeating ISIS remained his top priority.
Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman asked Obama if the Brussels attack would lead him to reconsider his policy.
“You’ve resisted calls to alter your strategy for fighting the Islamic State, and you’ve said that your critics aren’t offering any better ideas,” Lederman said. “But the attacks keep happening. Did Brussels change anything for you, and if not, would you like to—do you think that Americans should see more attacks as being inevitable?”
After Lederman completed the other parts of his question, including one about Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) calling for increased surveillance of Muslims, Obama sighed before answering.
“Josh, I think it is important to recognize that this is my number one priority,” Obama said. “I’ve got a lot of things on my plate, but my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. We see high-profile attacks in Europe, but they’re also killing Muslims throughout the Middle East, people who are innocent, people who are guilty only of worshiping Islam in a different way than this organization.”
Obama devoted 51 seconds to the terror attack in Brussels that killed at least 31 people on Tuesday before returning to his prepared remarks about U.S.-Cuban relations. He later attended a baseball game with Cuban leader Raul Castro before flying to Argentina.