Watch CBSN Live

Obama: Iran Elections Reflect "New Possibilities"

Following remarks on the tobacco legislation that today passed Congress, President Obama fielded a question on the elections taking place in Iran today. The president said he is "excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran."

"Obviously, after the speech that I made in Cairo, we tried to send a clear message that we think there is the possibility of change," he said. "And ultimately, the election is for the Iranians to decide, but just as has been true in Lebanon, what can be true in Iran as well is that you're seeing people looking at new possibilities."

"Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there's been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways," the president concluded.

The Iranian election pits conservative hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president, against the more moderate reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The president's reference to Lebanon – where a U.S. backed moderate coalition recently won an electoral victory over Hezbollah – seems to reflect an implicit endorsement of the challenger, who supports more freedoms for the Iranian people and improved relations with the United States.

View CBS News In