President Obama is defending himself against criticism over his comments that Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after Gates showed he was in his own home.
The president was asked about his remarks in an interview with ABC on Thursday night. He said he was surprised that his remarks sparked such a controversy.
"I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.
He said "cooler heads should have prevailed" in the encounter. But he did not retract his initial statement that he thought police had "acted stupidly" and said such incidents "get elevated in ways that probably don't make much sense."
The White House has since qualified Mr. Obama's initial remarks, saying the president was not calling the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, stupid.
Cambridge police union officials are planning to ask for an apology from the president for his remarks on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Gates has demanded an apology from Sgt. Crowley.
This program aired on July 24, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.