Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio on Tuesday dismissed the controversy over a photograph that showed President Obama bowing to her last week at an Air Force base in Tampa, saying the president was only being "gracious."
The president, who faced criticism last year for bowing to Japanese Emperor Akihito and slouching toward Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah months before that, was captured in an AP photo on Thursday bent at a 45-degree angle toward Iorio while greeting her at MacDill Air Force Base.
In case there was any doubt about what was being depicted, the AP caption read: "U.S. President Barack Obama bows to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio."
But Iorio told Fox News Obama was just being a gentleman.
"It's hard for me to believe that this is such a major issue," she said. "It is an unusual photograph, but ... I wish people could all meet President Obama face to face, but he is a kind and sincere and gracious individual and you really see that when you meet him."
Iorio said the issue does not deserve "the kind of analysis that's been going on."
Obama was in Tampa to discuss jobs-creation and federal funding for mass-transit projects at a town hall-style meeting. But the run-of-the-mill nature of the stop made the bow seem all the more out of place.
The photo quickly made its way around the blogosphere over the weekend. Redstate.com, in a scathing post, suggested Obama should save his bows for more reprehensible figures.
"The mayor of Tampa isn't a Third World potentate, totalitarian dictator, or terrorist leader so I can't understand why Obama would be in full-bow mode. Is bowing now the standard way the president greets people these days? Is he misoriented, for some reason, and thinks Tampa is a terrorist stronghold or an enemy of the United States?" Redstate.com wrote in a post.