President Obama told Jay Leno during his visit to the "Tonight Show" that "you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end" that Moammar Gadhafi did, but that his death sends a message to other dictators.
Obama also said he isn't paying much attention to the GOP debates this early in the election cycle, according to a transcript of the appearance provided by NBC. He also chatted with Leno about Republican opposition to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and about what Michelle Obama is giving trick-or-treaters for Halloween.
"I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island before --" he joked about the GOP race, trailing off before finishing the thought. "Once they narrow it down to one or two, I'll start paying attention."
Asked about the Libyan dictator's death last week, Obama told Leno:
"Well, this is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism. And he had an opportunity during the Arab spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy.
"We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn't do it. And, obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that... people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people."
Video of the bloodied dictator being dragged away -- and later shots of his corpse being surrounded by crowds -- appeared worldwide last week.
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