President Obama said publicly today what he has been been telling world leaders for days:
"You have seen with great clarity that he has lost legitimacy with his people," Obama said at a joint White House news conference with visiting Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
"Let me just be very unambiguous about this. Col. Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave," Obama told reporters.
"What I have instructed the Department of Defense, as well as our State Department and all those who are involved in international affairs, to examine is a full range of options," Obama said.
"I don't want us hamstrung, I want us to be making our decisions based on what's going to be best for the Libyan people in consultation with the international community," the President added.
Obama appears first and foremost to be concerned with an increasing likelihood of a refugee crisis along the Tunisian border.
"I have, therefore, approved the military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt. I've authorized USAID to charter additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries to find their way home. And we're supporting the efforts of international organizations," Obama said.
Ramstein Air Base in Germany was one potential staging base for an airlift, the AP reported.
Protesters, according to The Washington Post, plan to gather after prayers Friday in Tripoli, the Libyan capital and Gadhafi's base of power.