Josh Earnest defends Obama's ISIS 'setback' remarks

Story highlights

  • On Wednesday morning news shows, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama's ISIS strategy
  • Fox News grilled Earnest over the President's use of the word "setback" in regards to ISIS

(CNN)White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama's ISIS strategy Wednesday, sparring with Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck over the President's characterization of the Paris attacks as a "setback."

"What I'd ask the American people to do is look at the transcripts of the President's remarks where he described the situation as sickening," Earnest said on "Fox and Friends." "What I would encourage you to do is spend just as much time on the President's actions as you do his words."
Hasselbeck pushed back, saying that "words matter," but Earnest maintained that the President responded swiftly in the wake of Friday's terror attacks in Paris, calling French President François Hollande hours after and convening a meeting with his national security team to discuss the U.S. response.
    Obama, who said that ISIS was "contained" a day before the attacks took place, has come under mounting scrutiny from Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates for his strategy to defeat the terror group.
    And amid renewed calls for boots on the ground from lawmakers like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Obama maintained that ground troops would be a "mistake" because "we would see a repetition of what we've seen before," citing difficulties in Iraq.
    Earnest also appeared on CNN"s "New Day" Wednesday, again defending the President's strategy and adding that while the U.S. "can apply significant pressure using our military" ultimately, "there's no military solution to this problem."
    "If we're going to solve this problem, we need to address the political situation inside of Syrian and Secretary Kerry is making progress doing exactly that," Earnest told CNN's Alisyn Camerota.