In Brussels police are still desperately hunting a dangerous terrorist after he fled a triple-suicide bombing in the city that left 34 dead, as officials search for news on U.S. citizens who went missing during the attack and medics tend to nine more Americans lying wounded in hospitals.
Meanwhile in Buenos Aires President Barack Obama was dancing the night away with wife Michelle at a glitzy state dinner alongside Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his first lady Juliana Awada as part of a two-day state visit.
Despite increasing calls from the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for the President to return home in the wake of the Brussels attack, Obama showed his determination to carry on regardless Wednesday night.
At the end of the state dinner, the Obamas were pulled abruptly onto the dance floor by a pair of Latin dancers providing the entertainment.
At first, the woman in the shimmering gold dress seemed content to twirl with her partner, but then she made a beeline for the president and beckoned him to the floor.
The president, who has been known to break into song on occasion but has rarely shown off his moves, declined her invitation several times, but she wasn’t to be deterred and she soon had him sashaying across the floor. It was unclear if the slightly clunky President had been having lessons. Mrs Obama meanwhile tangoed with the male dancer nearby.
This morning pundits – both liberal and conservative – complained about the optics the sultry dance sent out to the rest of the world.
On Morning Joe, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations praised Argentina for its democratic transition of power and thought Obama right in paying the South American country a visit, according to Politico.
‘They’re doing the right things economically, they’re doing the right things politically, it’s a good story,’ Haass said.’However the advance person who let him do the tango, that person ought to be looking for work on somebody’s – in somebody’s campaign very, very far away.’
‘That was a tremendous mistake,’ he continued. ‘It’s fine to go to Argentina, you want to do the work, but you’ve got to be careful of these little photo ops and optics. Baseball games and tangos, that inconsistent with the seriousness of the day.’
The more liberal co-host Mika Brzezinski thought the whole thing ‘really strange to me.’
Nicolle Wallace, the former communications director for President George W. Bush, called the double insult of the tango and the baseball game a ‘communications crime.’
Wallace called the moves ‘out of step with the entire American public, not just Republicans.’
‘You heard Democrats yesterday increasingly uncomfortable with the choices he makes at a moment of crisis,’ Wallace pointed out. ‘There were mothers laying dead while their, you know, family members were at the crime scene yesterday and to look like the priority is to go on a foreign trip instead of pausing for a minute and explaining that to America is a communications crime.’
Steve Rattner, who was also on the panel and is a bundler for Hillary Clinton, suggested that the dance and Obama’s interview with ESPN, which he conducted during taking in the baseball game in Cuba, could have been handled in a more sensitive way.
‘I think he could have handled some of that differently. I agree certainly about the tango,’ Rattner relented. ‘But the idea that some people are throwing out that he should have, like, turned the plane around and rushed back to Washington. To do what?’
Perhaps as a concession to his critics, Obama said he will be sending John Kerry to Brussels on Friday to express his condolences on behalf of the American people and stand in solidarity with Belgium.
The Obamas also shared at candlelit dinner with Macri and Awada at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, named after Argentina’s former President and Marci’s predecessor, in the country’s capital this evening.
The group paused for a photo opportunity on a red carpet on their way in with Obama and Marci dressed in suits and Michelle and Awada in glamorous evening dresses.
From there they made their way into a leafy candlelit courtyard for champagne, where champagne was served before the dancing began.
In Brussels, however, police continued to hunt for the mysterious ‘man in white’ pictured alongside suicide bomber Ibrahim el-Bakraoui and bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui who killed themselves along with 14 others in two suicide blasts at the city’s international airport.
American officials are also hunting for Justin and Stephanie Shults, who live and work in Belgium but are originally from Kentucky, after they went missing following a visit to Brussels Airport on Tuesday morning to drop off Mrs Shults’ mother off.
Their family thought the pair had been found injured in hospital on Wednesday afternoon, but it has now emerged that they are still missing.
Karen Northshield, another American who has been living and working in Belgium for almost a decade, is fighting for her life in intensive care after suffering severe injuries in the bombing.
Northshield was reportedly on her way home to visit her family in the U.S. for Easter when the attack at the airport took place.
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