Obama: 'More Flexibility' After Election

In an unscripted moment, he was candid about possibilities for missile defense.

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Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

After a carefully scripted statement to reporters in Seoul, South Korea, about continuing discussions on the sensitive issues of European missile defense, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had a less formal chat about political realities.

It seems pretty clear that President Obama's blunt statement about what he'll be able to accomplish during his second term versus his first wasn't meant for public consumption.

The Washington Post reports:

But in an unscripted moment picked up by camera crews, the American president was more blunt: Let me get reelected first, he said, then I’ll have a better chance of making something happen.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama can be heard telling Medvedev, apparently referring to incoming Russian president -- and outgoing prime minister -- Vladimir Putin.

“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replies, according to an account relayed by an ABC News producer, who said she viewed a recording of the discussion made by a Russian camera crew. “I understand your message about space. Space for you ... ”

“This is my last election,” Obama interjects. “After my election I have more flexibility.

Medvedev, who last week demanded written proof that Russia is not the intended target of U.S. missile defense efforts, responded agreeably.

“I understand,” he told the U.S. president. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

The exchange was a rare glimpse of a world leader speaking frankly about the political realities he faces back at home. It could expose Obama, who was in Seoul for a nuclear security summit, to criticism that his international security agenda is being compromised by a reelection calculus.

Watch the clip here, courtesy of CBS News:

Read more at the Washington Post.

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