WASHINGTON — The Obama administration made a mistake when it decided the United States would be represented at this weekend's unprecedented unity rally in Paris by the U.S. ambassador to France, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.
"I think it's fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile," Earnest said at the daily White House press briefing.
The White House took criticism from American journalists and Republican politicians after no senior U.S. leaders made an appearance at the Paris rally, meant to project unity after a series of terror attacks on French citizens, including the controversial newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher bakery.
Earnest did not respond to multiple questions about the decision not to send a senior American official to the rally, which featured appearances by top leaders many countries including Germany, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United Kingdom. He said President Obama "would have liked the opportunity to be there" in Paris but noted the rally was scheduled in just a few days and the president's security detail would have been "onerous" because of it.
An Obama appearance would have had the effect of "significantly impacting" the ability of millions to rally in Paris due to presidential security concerns, Earnest said.