Obama defends remarks about Gates arrest

President Obama is defending his remarks last night that the police "acted stupidly" when arresting Harvard Scholar Henry Louis Gates.

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straight forward 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 told ABC News in an interview that will be aired tonight.

"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," Obama continued "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that President never meant to imply that the arresting officer was stupid.

That officer, Sgt. James Crowley, said today that Obama was "way off base" in his comments last night. "I acted appropriately," Crowley told WBZ Radio.

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