On Monday the White House revealed that President Barack Obama regrets that he did not send a more senior U.S. official to the march in Paris on Sunday to denounce terrorism. Heads of state from a number of countries gathered to commemorate the shooting attacks against journalists, police officers and hostages that occurred in France last week, the Wall Street Journal reports.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest described the president’s sentiments during a press conference. “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile,” Earnest said, addressing criticism that neither the president nor Vice President Joe Biden nor Secretary of State John Kerry was in attendance. The only U.S. official at the march was the U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley.
Earnest said that Obama would have liked to be there himself. “I think the president himself would have liked to have the opportunity to be there,” he said.
Earnest went on to note that Obama didn’t make the decision about which U.S. official would represent America at the event because the request wasn’t brought “to the president’s attention,” the Journal reports. An unnamed White House official made the decision to have Hartley represent the U.S. at the march.
According to a Politico report, Obama’s not attending was probably best, given how quickly the event came together and how much planning and preparation the Secret Service would have needed to clear the event for security reasons.
“We’re talking about a march that came together in about 36 hours, and a march that took place outdoors,” explained Earnest, according to Politico, saying that Obama’s presence would have severely impacted the experience of the millions who did attend.