Photo by Yekaterina Shtukina/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: President Obama on Tuesday defended a private exchange with Russian president Dimitri Medvedev that was picked up over a live mic in Seoul on Monday, saying that his comments shouldn't be a shock to anyone.
"I don't think it's any surprise that you can't start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia," the president said while standing side-by-side with Medvedev, Reuters reports.
In the private conversation, Obama had urged Medvedev (and by extension, incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin) to wait until after the 2012 U.S. elections before expecting any progress on a compromise over a contentious missile defense system.
Monday, March 26: President Obama may want to be more careful around microphones.
For the second time in six months, a live mic picked up a private exchange between the president and a world leader, this time Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
In Seoul on Monday, Obama assured the outgoing Russian leader that a compromise over a contentious missile defense system could be reached after the 2012 election. "This can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space," Obama said, referring to incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin. "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."
CBS News has audio of the statements, which followed a 90-minute meeting between Obama and Medvedev over a proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe. Russia strongly opposes the project, but the United States argues it is necessary to protect against the possibility of a nuclear Iran.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney seized on the open mic mishap at a rally in San Diego hours later, calling the president’s remarks "alarming" and "troubling." House Speaker John Boehner joined the fray on Twitter: "We look forward to hearing what he meant by having 'more flexibility' on missile defense."
The incident echoed an embarrassing one last November in which a microphone picked up Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy as they derided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama was overheard telling Sarkozy at a G20 economic summit.