President Obama, during an interview Tuesday with Jay Leno on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” described the threat of a terrorist attack against Americans as “significant enough that we’re taking every precaution.”
The comments were the first the president has made since the State Department late last week decided to close embassies and diplomatic posts across a large swath of the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central Asia in the face of a “credible and specific” terrorist threat.
The U.S. government also warned Americans not to travel to those countries, even though Obama said everyone should go ahead with summer travel plans as long as they “show some common sense” and recognize that some countries are more dangerous than others.
Obama dodged a question about whether U.S. intelligence agencies learned of the threat through National Security Agency surveillance programs and wouldn’t say which countries pose the biggest threat.
On a lighter note, Leno asked about the “bromance” brewing between Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the president praised his one-time rival for speaking his mind.
“That’s how a classic romantic comedy goes. Initially you’re not getting along and then you keep bumping into each other,” he joked.
On Hillary Clinton, Obama mentioned that he invited her to lunch recently at the White House.
“She had that post-administration glow,” he said to laughs.
He also said they were “genuinely close” and called her a “great secretary of state.”
When Leno asked if she were measuring the drapes in the Oval Office during her recent White House visit, Obama laughed and said she had already been there.
“Keep in mind she’s been there. She doesn’t have to measure them.”
At the start of the show, Leno wished Obama a happy birthday and asked him how he celebrated turning 52 on Sunday.
Obama told Leno he had a bunch of friends from high school and college who he doesn’t see that often come over to play some golf and basketball.
“It was a sad state of affairs,” Obama said laughing. “A bunch of old guy … Where’s the ibuprofen and all that stuff.”
At the end of the show, Obama presented Leno, a car enthusiast, with a toy model of the Beast, his presidential limousine. Leno appeared to be thrilled, even asking Obama to sign the car.
“Oh, cool!” he remarked twice.