President Obama on Thursday repeated his declaration that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is no longer a legitimate leader and should relinquish power.
"Moammar Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave," Obama said.
In a joint press availability with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama outlined U.S. efforts to aid in the humanitarian crisis that is evolving as Libyans flee their country amid violence, and he conceded for the first time that "there is a danger of a stalemate that over time could be bloody."
Obama refused to rule out military intervention, saying he has instructed the Pentagon and the State Department to "examine a full range of options" in case the U.S. has to act fast in the region.
"I don't want us hamstrung," Obama said.
To that end, Obama said he continues to consider a no-fly zone in Libya, an act that would require bombing anti-aircraft sites within the country. Sens. John KerryJohn KerryTwenty-four countries say global net-zero goal will fuel inequality Queen Elizabeth recognizes Kerry from video message: 'I saw you on the telly' Fossil fuel production must be cut in half to control global warming: study MORE (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are pushing for a no-fly zone.
Obama said he wants decisions on how to deal with Gadhafi "based on what's best for the Libyan people in consultation with the international community."
The president has asked the Pentagon to make sure he has the "full capacity to act potentially rapidly if the situation deteriorated in such a way you had a humanitarian crisis on our hands or a situation where … defenseless civilians were finding themselves trapped and in great danger."
"Let me be very unambiguous about this: Col. Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave," Obama said. "It is good for his country. It is good for his people. It is the right thing to do."
The president said that he has approved the use of U.S. military
aircraft to help Egyptians on the Libyan and Tunisian borders who fled
their country to get back home.
The president has also ordered the USAID to charter additional aircraft to help other refugees to return home, and he has directed humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border.
Obama re-emphasized his belief that "the violence must stop," promising that senior Libyan leaders who allow violence against their people "will be held accountable."
"The United States and the entire world continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people," Obama said.
Obama noted that recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have been successful and not harmful to U.S. interests, because Americans were not viewed as having engineered the revolutions.
Obama said that anti-American sentiment did not arise out of the turmoil, because the U.S. did not employ too firm a hand.
This story was updated at 4:30 p.m.