Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair threw cold water on the right-wing media complaint that President Obama is shirking his duty by not having bilateral meetings with world leaders during the United Nations General Assembly this week.
After criticizing Obama's schedule earlier in the show, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Blair: "Is there a difference, when you are a leader of a country, in a phone conversation versus a face-to-face meeting with another leader?"
But Blair did not play along with Fox's talking point, saying instead that while UN week is "a necessary thing to go through," what really matters "is where America is in the world today."
BLAIR: Yeah, but I think to be fair, UN week is -- you know, I used to attend the UN week every year pretty much --
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): It's a festivity.
BLAIR: Well, it's a necessary thing to go through. I don't quite know how to put this diplomatically. I probably am putting it undiplomatically. No, I think what matters, frankly, is where America is in the world today. And, you know, I always say this to people, because in America you see these pictures of people burning the flag and out on the street and so on. You've just got to understand that there is another side to all of that, which is actually people who admire America, respect it, and need it to be strong. And I always say to people in America don't worry so much about being loved, just be strong.
Blair added that he did not believe the U.S. was projecting weakness when co-host Brian Kilmeade asked if America was "projecting a vulnerability and a weakness today."