As violence exploded in the Middle East and the world recoiled at the destruction of a commercial jetliner, President Obama kept largely to his schedule, which included recent appearances at Democratic fundraisers that drew criticism from political opponents.
But yukking it up alongside comedian Jimmy Kimmel was apparently a couch too far.
The entertainment news site TMZ.com reported Monday that Obama would appear on the late-night ABC program during his visit to Los Angeles this week.
Not this trip, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
"In advance of the trip, we've been in touch with Kimmel's folks about the president doing his show,” Earnest said. “We elected not to do it this time, but hope we can arrange to do it in the near future."
The comedy couch has become a regular campaign stop for politicians of all stripes. Obama and his wife Michelle took part in the “Tonight Show” during Jay Leno’s tenure and both have also visited with his late-night heir, Jimmy Fallon —the first lady with a dance routine that mocked “The Evolution of Mom Dancing.”
But joining Kimmel this week would have meant ceding control during a politically and diplomatically fraught period. And while the fundraisers that Obama has continued to attend — and will again in Los Angeles — have drawn criticism, they do not generate visuals of the sort that would have been created by a Kimmel visit.
Obama flies west Tuesday for fundraisers benefiting Democratic candidates in Seattle and San Francisco. He arrives in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with local Democratic National Committee events scheduled for Wednesday night and Thursday. He will also appear Thursday at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
Asked Monday whether Obama considered curtailing his heavy fundraising schedule during the violence in Gaza and Ukraine, Earnest said he had not.
“As was demonstrated last week when the president was on the road and two of these crises flared up, the president was able to fulfill his responsibilities as commander-in-chief and as the leader of this country from the road,” Earnest said during his daily White House briefing.
“When the president travels, he travels with an array of staff and advisors and communications equipment that allows him to do his job from wherever he happens to be. And that will be the case this week when he’s traveling later this week.… And if it becomes clear that there’s a need for him to come back to the White House in order to fulfill those functions, then we’ll make a change in his schedule.”