CNN's John King On Obama-Castro Handshake: Obama "Was Showing Respect"


CUOMO: John King, I don't know if you just saw it, President Obama just shook hands with Raul Castro, former leader de Klerk and others as he came up. What does that mean politically? Is it just about the moment? Does that satisfy the interest of respect? How do you think it plays politically?

KING: I think what the president will say is the conversation you're just having. That this was -- this is a moment of reconciliation. It's a moment of tribute to a great man. It was not a time to make a political statement. So, you shake hands out of respect for the moment and move on.

No doubt about it, there's also been criticism back here of some Republicans who have said nice things about Mandela. There's been a Twitter conversation and other conversation about he was a communist or he was socialist. How can you say nice things about him?

That's silly season. That should just be set aside. You can have political differences with the policies of Nelson Mandela, and still recognize his greatness as a man and for what he did to bring down the apartheid regime?

Will President Obama get some criticism for that brief hand shake? Yes, he will. It comes with the territory, I guess.

But I remember at the inauguration, Al Gore went out of his way, the vice president was leading the U.S. delegation. He literally ducked his way behind aides and ducked his way into doors to avoid Fidel Castro.

But inauguration is different from a memorial service. Raul Castro was right there. I would say the president of the United States really didn't have much of a choice. Had he lingered a long time, he might have started a bigger rile than he was going to have. But make no doubt about it, you understand politics. Somebody will decide that was a horrible thing.

I think the president was showing respect for the moment.

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