“My No. 1 job is to protect the American people. My No. 1 priority right now is defeating ISIL,” Obama said in a wide-ranging interview on Fox News Sunday.
“There isn’t a president who’s taken more terrorists off the field than me, over the last seven-and-a-half years,” the president said.
“I’m the guy who calls the families, or meets with them, or hugs them, or tries to comfort a mom, or a dad, or a husband, or a kid, after a terrorist attack. So let’s be very clear about how much I prioritize this: This is my No. 1 job.”
Obama also defended his playing golf after American James Foley was beheaded by Daesh terrorists and going to a baseball game in Cuba after the terror bombings in Brussels, Belgium, last month.
“In the wake of terrorist attacks, it has been my view consistently that the job of the terrorists, in their minds, is to induce panic, induce fear, get societies to change who they are. And what I’ve tried to communicate is, ‘You can’t change us. You can kill some of us, but we will hunt you down, and we will get you,’” the president said.
The Obama administration is considering a set of new proposals by the Pentagon to ramp up military operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, including deployment of additional special forces in Syria and combat troops in Iraq.
The goal, officials say, is to dislodge the terrorists from their strongholds in Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul in neighboring Iraq. Obama underscored the importance of that goal after a meeting with top US military brass at the White House last week.
The US military has also resumed a highly-criticized program to train new groups of militants to fight Daesh in Syria.
In the interview taped on Friday, Obama also weighed in on the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server when she was running the State Department, saying “nobody is above the law.”
“I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case,” he said.
However, Obama defended Clinton’s record as his secretary of state between 2009 to 2013, and said he still does not think her use of the personal server has jeopardized US national security.
“There’s carelessness in terms of managing emails, that she has owned, and she recognizes,” Obama said.