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President Obama on Romney's taxes, Akin's rape comments, more

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama Credit: (Getty Images)

President Barack Obama fielded questions from the press in a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Monday after receiving criticism from the Romney campaign and other Republican rivals for not holding a press conference in close to two months. It was a strategic move aimed at undercutting his opponents in the GOP on what was already a bad news day for them. Here's what he had to say:

On his campaign's call for Romney's tax returns:
"The American people have assumed that if you want to be president of the United States that your life's an open book when it comes to things like your finances. I'm not asking to disclose every detail of his medical records, although we normally do that as well."

On Rep. Akin's comments on rape:
"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."

On the killings of NATO soldiers by Afghan troops:
"I'll be reaching out to president Karzai. We've got to make sure that we're on top of this ... We are deeply concerned about this from top to bottom. And hopefully over the next several weeks we'll start seeing better progress on this front."

On Assad and the Syrian conflict:
"The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war, he should move in the direction of a political transition. But at this point, the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant."

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