White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama’s fundraising and golf-playing amid the threat from the Islamic State, telling Fox News reporter Ed Henry that the safety of America is his top priority and he is fully engaged.

Henry asked during Friday’s press briefing: “Is he detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it doesn’t matter anymore? Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”

Earnest said that any president must handle multiple responsibilities.

“That’s why the president has a national security team in whom he has a lot of confidence,” Earnest said. “It is also why he works closely with his advisers on a range of issues to make sure he is leading them in the right direction, that he is setting a vision for the future of this country. That’s what allows him to handle a lot of responsibilities at the same time.

“One of his responsibilities as the head of a party is to support Democratic candidates who are on the ballot,” Earnest continued. “That’s why the president is obviously spending a little bit of time supporting their efforts — there is no doubt to anyone who looks at the president’s schedule that he is devoting significantly more time and energy to the more important responsibility he has, to ensure the safety and security of the American people.


Obama prompted criticism Thursday when he told reporters that regarding the Islamic State, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” He is attending two fundraisers Friday evening and went golfing last week, moments after addressing the execution of American journalist James Foley by the terrorist group.

Henry asked Earnest: “Why does he not have a strategy yet?”

“The Pentagon is still developing options for the president, for the commander in chief to use against ISIL in Syria,” Earnest said. “There are some who probably would make the case that it’s OK to not have a formulated comprehensive strategy. But just as one pundit I know recently suggested that we can just go drop some bombs and see what happens, that is not what the president believes is a smart approach. The president believes it’s important for us to pursue a comprehensive strategy, where military action is one component of that strategy.”

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