President Barack Obama did not attend a lunch with heads of state at the United Nations Tuesday, instead heading back to the White House so he could call an influential Iowa newspaper to talk about NFL referees.
According to The Des Moines Register, “minutes after his helicopter landed at the White House,” Obama called the newspaper for a “pre-arranged” interview. He spoke primarily about the raging controversy over NFL replacement referees.
“I say this as a Bears fan, who obviously is never heartbroken when the Packers lose, but it’s not just this game,” Obama told the newspaper. “We’ve seen that over the last several months. We need to go ahead and get this resolved and I think that is a bipartisan position.”
The President said he could not watch the whole football game on Monday because he “was busy” but “saw the ending.” He said the referees have “been put in a tough situation,” but “the fact is this is a tough game to control. And it doesn’t make sense to me for a league that’s been so successful not to want to put their very best out there.”
On Tuesday, the nation engaged in a heated debate about replacement referees after they botched a call at the end of the Green Bay-Seattle Monday night football game that allowed Seattle to win a game they should have lost.
Obama weighed in on the issue three times throughout the day. First, he sent out a tweet. Then, after arriving at the White House from the United Nations on Tuesday, he ignored all questions from reporters until one shouted a question about the referee controversy.
The question stopped Obama in his tracks, and he turned around and answered the NFL referees were “terrible,” and, “as I’ve been saying for months, we’ve gotta get our refs back.”
Then he called the Register to discuss the issue again.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon joked Obama “must be busy with something” to not be at the luncheon, and other U.N. officials called Obama’s no-show “insulting.”
The previous day, Obama did an interview on “The View” instead of having bilateral meetings with world leaders.