NEW YORK — Marriage at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The attack in Libya and the interests of an angry Muslim world. The faltering American middle class.
Hand it to the women of The View: On Monday, the hosts of the popular daytime talk show ranged over a variety of issues with the first couple, who used the appearance to portray their marriage as a warm, loving one.
President Barack Obama can be "very loving," "very giving" and "funny," first lady Michelle Obama told the female hosts. The president said Michelle can be "thoroughly unreasonable" — although he did so with a smile.
Turning to more serious matters, President Obama declined to describe the recent attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as a "terrorist" strike. He also damned with faint praise his rival for the presidency, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, calling him "a good man" who "means well" but is not presenting a coherent solution to the economic crisis.
Obama last appeared on The View in May, and Monday marked the fifth time he's done the show. The first lady had also visited four times on her own; this was the first time the two appeared on the show together. The taped interview will air today.
Romney said last week that he will visit The View next month; last Tuesday, Kelly Ripa's morning show aired an interview with the candidate and his wife.
The hosts of The View lean to the left, except for Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who carries the conservative colors.
Veering from the first marriage on Monday, Hasselbeck asked Obama whether he is failing the middle class and whether the recent attack that killed four U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, was a "terrorist attack."
"There's no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn't just a mob action," the president answered, though he did not use the word "terrorist."
"What's clear is that, around the world, there are still a lot of threats out there."
Obama, who has made repairing U.S. relations with the Islamic world a major part of his foreign policy, added that "the overwhelming majority of Muslims, they want the same things that families here want."
"They want opportunity," he said. "Kids want an education. They want jobs. They want peace. But there are extremist strains that are there."
Hasselbeck bristled when Obama suggested that he is more in touch with America outside of Washington than many conservatives believe. "You are Washington," she told him. "You're about as inside as it gets."
"The idea was you can't change Washington just from the inside; you've got to mobilize the American people," Obama replied.
The president also delved into the weight of being commander in chief during wartime, as well as watching his daughters grow up in the White House.