The White House is defending President Obama's televised interview about college basketball amid criticism from Republicans who question whether the president is focused on the big issues facing the country.
Asked if it is appropriate for Obama to fill out his NCAA March Madness brackets at a time of global challenges, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president is capable of juggling several issues at once.
"There are crises all the time, for every president," Carney said. "And again, this one is happening halfway around the world, and it is severe and it is important, and it is the focus of a great deal of the president's attention. As are the events in the Middle East, as are the agenda items that he is pursuing to grow the economy and increase jobs in American and make sure we out-innovate, out-build and out-educate the competition in the 21st Century.
"You know, it's a hard job. It requires a lot," Carney said.
Carney noted that Obama used the interview as an opportunity to urge Americans to go to the USAID's website and donate to help those in Japan.
Republicans and conservative media outlets have harped on Obama's golf outings and other extracurricular activities to portray the president as out of touch and failing to lead.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) blasted Obama on Wednesday for his recent interview with ESPN's Andy Katz.
RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said that "millions of Americans will be filling out a bracket this week, but only one of them is responsible for signing a federal budget, monitoring the crisis in the Middle East and assisting with a major humanitarian effort in Japan."
"With all of those pressing issues on the president's plate, we would be happy to hear the White House explain why filming an ESPN special on the NCAA tournament should be a priority on his public schedule," Kukowski said.
Obama picked Kansas to win the NCAA tournament.