President Obama is still eating some crow for his comment at a recent Silicon Valley fundraiser that California's Kamala Harris is "the best-looking attorney general in the country."
"I do think that it was a useful teaching moment for me and for the country," President Barack Obama told NBC's Today show in an interview that aired Wednesday.
"Kamala's a friend of mine. We had been joking offstage. You know, when I got to the stage I made the same joke and, obviously, you know, people, I think, reacted negatively. Kamala knew where I was coming from."
And what have we learned from this teachable moment?
"As the father of two daughters, I want to make sure that they're judged on the merits and not on their appearance," Obama said. "I've got no problem in people, I think, using what was intended as an innocuous comment to make this larger point that we want to make sure that women are judged, you know, based on the job they do and not how they look."
The president had apologized to Harris hours after making the comment, and Harris' office issued a statement the day after saying they've been friends for many years and she strongly supports him.
Still, the remark at the Atherton fundraiser on April 4 touched off an international hubbub.
She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women in public office, released new research last week showing that even complimentary comments about a female candidate's appearance can undermine her credibility with voters.
Experts generally agree that Harris, 48, has a meaty-enough record to support ambitions that might include a bid for the governor's office, a U.S. Senate seat or a high-level presidential appointment.
But "voters have a hard time believing women are qualified, so a sexist reference like this reinforces that," She Should Run President and CEO Siobhan "Sam" Bennett said, noting that the research found a candidate fares better if she deals with such comments immediately and decisively -- or if the person who made the comment promptly apologizes.
In this case, she said, "the thing that was needed was exactly what happened: Obama apologized."