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February 14, 2013

Obama defends drones, Hagel, Valentine's Day -- won't name a baby

President Obama defended his adminstration's drone program, decried a Republican filibuster of his choice for Defense Secretary and prodded a man to treat his wife for Valentine's Day -- all during an online chat with Google participants from across the country.

Asked about fears of the shadowy nature of the drone program, Obama said: "There's never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil." And he said he's committed to ensuring a legal framework for the adminstration's counter terrorism efforts saying, "I am not somebody who believes the president has the authority to do whatever he or she wants..under the guise of national security."

He lambasted Senate Republicans for filibustering former Sen. Chuck Hagel, his choice for Defense Secretary, saying they seem to believe that 60 votes are necessary for anything to pass.

"We've never had a secretary of defense filibustered before," a clearly agitated Obama said. He said it was his "expectation and hope" that Hagel will be confirmed, saying he needs his choice for Defense Secretary as the U.S. continues to wind down the war in Afghanistan and calling it "unfortunate this type of politics" occurs.

Hagel, Obama noted, "was a member of the Republican caucus, a colleague of all these folks." And he said, he’s "imminently qualified to be Defense Secretary."

But Obama wouldn't pick sides when asked by one couple to chose between baby names: Alice or Eleanor, saying he didn't want to cause the child problems. He did chose sides, however, when one woman asked him about her non-Valentine's Day celebrating husband:

"If mama's happy, everybody's happy," Obama said to the husband. "Do right, man."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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