Obama condemns Iran crackdown, pushes healthcare
President Barack Obama condemned Iran's crackdown on anti-government protesters on Tuesday in his strongest comments yet, declaring the United States "appalled and outraged" by the violence in Tehran, Reuters reported.
At his fourth White House news conference, Obama also said he was still optimistic about the prospects in Congress for his sweeping healthcare reform plan and urged lawmakers to pass his comprehensive climate change bill.
The Democratic president, facing heavy criticism from Republicans that he was being too timid in backing street protests over Iran's contested election, said accusations the United States was instigating them were "patently false and absurd."
"I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost," Obama said.
He said a video of an Iranian women killed in the streets of Tehran, which has become a staple of news coverage of the protests, was "heartbreaking" and made clear the violence against the protesters was "fundamentally unjust."
"We must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place," he said.
Asked why it had taken him so long to express his outrage, Obama said the U.S. approach had not been inconsistent.
"Ultimately the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people," he said, adding that it was crucial to make sure that his comments were not exploited by the Iranian government.
Obama said he still believed Congress would pass an overhaul of the healthcare system. A government-run health insurance plan "made sense" as part of the package, he said.
Obama is battling growing concerns over the price tag -- at least $1 trillion and possibly far more -- on his reform plan and proposals for a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.