Obama: Quip about Kamala Harris was ‘teaching moment for me’

President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that the public uproar sparked when he called California’s Kamala Harris the “best-looking attorney general” provided a “teaching moment for me and for the country.”

The president told NBC's "Today" show that “Kamala knew where I was coming from. Kamala’s a friend of mine. We had been joking offstage. You know, when I got to the stage I made the same joke and, obviously, you know, people, I think, reacted negatively.”

Yes. They did. Enough that the president apologized to Harris, and the White House publicized his expression of remorse.

“I do think it was a useful teaching moment for me and for the country,” he said. “As the father of two daughters, I want to make sure that they're judged on the merits and not on their appearance.”

Reporters who've covered Obama for any length of time know that the "good-looking" comment is a bit of a verbal crutch for the president, who frequently uses it to describe, well, dudes. A bit the way former President George W. Bush used to insist that virtually every man in his orbit had "married above himself."

“I've got no problem in people, I think, using what was intended as an innocuous comment to make this larger point that we want to make sure that women are judged, you know, based on the job they do and not how they look,” Obama said.