Domestic American politics dominated President Obama's first press conference of his weeklong Africa trip where he hoped instead to focus on economic partnerships between the U.S and African nations.
President Obama had wanted to spend his first full day in Senegal Thursday focusing on economic and democracy building efforts in Africa, but his press conference was dominated by questions on domestic issues and decisions back home.
On the Supreme Court’s recent historic decisions, the president said that the DOMA ruling “was not simply a victory for the LGBT community, I think it was a victory for American democracy” but that he believed the Supreme Court made a “mistake” in its ruling on the Voting Rights Act.
Obama reiterated that his visit to the African continent is crucial, and there is potential for U.S. economic relations.
“Africa often times is not focused on by our press and our leadership back home unless there is a crisis. Part of the reason we want to focus here, starting in Senegal, is to make sure people understand there is enormous potential here,” said Obama.
While in Senegal, Obama paid homage to a tragic piece of American history by visiting Goree Island which served as a primary transit point for African slaves to the United States in the 18th century.
He will attend a state dinner in Senegal Thursday night and plans to discuss food security issues Friday morning before traveling to South Africa and then Tanzania.
As the world watches closely the health of former South African leader, Nelson Mandela, President Obama called him “a personal hero” and a “hero for the world.”
Obama will be in South Africa on Saturday, however it is unlikely that he will visit Mandela in the hospital.