Deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest joined his administration counterparts in refusing to condemn Iranian Ayatollah Khomenei's reference to Israel as a "rabid dog" Thursday in the White House press conference.
Earnest oddly denied the White House is concerned that condemning the rhetoric might imperil the Geneva talks. However, the Obama administration spokesperson still avoided explicitly rebuking Iran for the inflammatory comments:
JONATHAN KARL: Following up on Iran, you have the supreme leader using such inflammatory language, calling America's closest ally in the region the rabid dog of the region. I'm a little surprised to see the kind of muted response from the administration. Is the White House concerned that coming out and condemning those comments would disrupt these –the emerging deal in Geneva?
JOSH EARNEST: Well —
KARL: (I mean soft-pedaling ?), in other words, so that —
EARNEST: Absolutely not. I think that our position in terms of our support for Israel's security is clear. I think the president has avery strong record of that. And in fact, that is something that theIranian regime, I think, has complained about in the past. So there is no doubting the strength of our support for the nation of Israel and for our commitment to the nation of Israel's security.
KARL: (Off mic) —
EARNEST: There should be no mistaking that. In fact, it is our view that, you know, pursuing this diplomatic opportunity would have significant benefits for Israel's security. So that is something –that is a view that's shared by our allies who are engaged in these talks, and that's why we're pursuing them.
KARL: Why not just come out and condemn — (off mic) — pretty outrageous comments, aren't they?
EARNEST: Well, I — you know, as I pointed out, I think our position on this is crystal clear, and I don't think there's anybody that has any doubt about that.