April 5, 2013 / 6:58 PM / in 6 years

Obama calls California attorney general to apologize for comment

California Attorney General Kamala Harris addresses the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris Thursday night to apologize for calling her “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country” during a fundraising trip, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“They are old friends, and good friends, and he did not in any way want to diminish the attorney general’s accomplishments and capabilities,” Carney said.

Commentators from both sides of the aisle had objected to Obama’s statement, which came during his remarks at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Thursday in Atherton, California.

At the fundraiser, Obama referred to Harris as “brilliant,” “dedicated,” “tough,” and “exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law” before referring to her appearance.

Carney said Obama apologized for creating the distraction.

“He fully recognizes the challenges women continue to face in the workplace, and that they should not be judged based on appearance,” Carney said.

Harris recently gained prominence due to her role in orchestrating a $25 billion settlement between states and banks over illegal shortcuts in foreclosures. Carney said Obama believes Harris did an “excellent job” on the issue.

Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Vicki Allen

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