President Obama took questions from the press at the White House on April 30, 2013. Read the full text of his remarks below.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody. Hello.
Good afternoon -- or good morning, everybody. I am here to answer questions in honor of Ed Henry, as he wraps up his tenure as president of the White House Correspondents' Association. Ed, because of that, you get the first question. Congratulations.
Q: Thank you, sir. I really appreciate that. And I hope we can go back to business and being mad at each other in a little bit.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm not mad at you.
Q: OK. Thank you. I appreciate it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You may be mad at me. (Laughter.)
Q: I'm not. (Laughter.)
A couple questions on national security. On Syria, you said that the red line was not just about chemical weapons being used but being spread, and it was a game changer, seemed cut and dry (sic). And now your administration seems to be suggesting that line is not clear. Do you risk U.S. credibility if you don't take military action?
And then on Benghazi, there are some survivors of that terror attack who say they want to come forward and testify, some in your State Department, and they say they've been blocked. Will you allow them to testify?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, on Syria, I think it's important to understand that for several years now what we've been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people, and this is not a situation in which we've been simply bystanders to what's been happening.
My policy from the beginning has been President Assad had lost credibility; that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians; and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and -- and to move forward on a political transition.
In pursuit of that strategy, we've organized the international community. We are the largest humanitarian donor. We have worked to strengthen the opposition. We have provided nonlethal assistance to the opposition. We have applied sanctions on Syria. So there are a whole host of steps that we've been taking precisely because even separate from the chemical weapons issue, what's happening in Syria is a blemish on the international community generally, and we've got to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect the Syrian people.
In that context, what I've also said is that the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer, not simply for the United States for but the international community. And the reason for that is that we have established international law and international norms that say when you use these kinds of weapons, you have the potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most inhumane way possible, and the proliferation risks are so significant that we don't want that genie out of the bottle. So when I've said the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer, that wasn't unique to -- that wasn't a position unique to the United States, and it shouldn't have been a surprise.