Entries in George Stephanopoulos (9)


Sunday Spotlight: George Saunders on ‘Tenth of December’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In this week’s Sunday Spotlight, author George Saunders discussed his critically praised book, Tenth of December. It’s now a best-seller – a rare feat for a short story collection. During an interview on ABC News’ This Week, Saunders told George Stephanopoulos he hopes to inspire a new sense of unity among readers.

“You’re sending out a bundle of energy, you know, concentrated energy that you’ve made with your own sweat, really, and your heart, and it goes out and it jangles somebody,” Saunders said. “Now, there’s another level where you do hope to make people more alive in the world, maybe more aware of the fact that we have more in common with others than we think we do.”

In a recent cover story, The New York Times Magazine called Saunders “the writer for our time” and praised his latest work as the “best book you’ll read this year.”

His collection of short stories features many contemporary American themes, including economic anxiety.

“You know, you can talk about race, you can talk about sex, you can talk about your biopsy. But when you get into class, people kind of clench up,” Saunders said. “In my 20s, I had a series of that kind of classic American experience, where you are kind of going down and you think, ‘That’s enough. Now I’m going to turn myself around,’ and then you go down a little more.”

Saunders, a former geophysical engineer, said his personal views on wealth and politics have evolved through the years.

“I went to the School of Mines in Colorado and … [was] kind of a dull-witted, sort of vaguely right-wing kind of person who didn’t really know much about politics,” he said. “And then I went to Asia in the oil business, and that really opened up my eyes to suffering and to the fact that wealth doesn’t necessarily indicate that you are virtuous. It’s just sort of an element of luck.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Grover Norquist: Obama and Democrats Using Newtown for “Political Purposes”

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Rifle Association board member and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist said on Sunday that President Obama and Democrats are politicizing the Newtown tragedy by pushing for gun control.

“We ought to calm down and not take tragedies like this, crimes like this, and use them for political purposes,” Norquist told George Stephanopoulos on This Week. “President Obama has been president for four years. If he thought some gun control could solve this problem, he should have been pushing it years ago.”

“Democrats had a majority in the House and a supermajority in the House and the Senate for the first two years that they were in office. If they thought that this was really an important issue they might have done something then. They didn’t,” he added.

On Wednesday, Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would head a task force of leaders from across the country to evaluate solutions to reduce gun violence.

Norquist endorsed the recommendation made by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at a press conference on Friday to place armed guards in schools across the country.

Other members of the political roundtable pushed for what they called “common sense” gun laws.

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, who is a member of the pro-gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said that there is more agreement than disagreement on measures to stop the mentally ill and criminals from acquiring weapons.

“I don’t think anyone has seen someone shot—I have,” Booker said. “I don’t know if anybody here has had to put their hand in somebody’s chest, and try to stop the bleeding so that person doesn’t die—I have. What frustrates me about this debate is that it is a false debate.”

“Most of us in America including gun owners agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that is going on in cities all across America,” Booker said, adding that loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns in “secondary markets” should be closed.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said that LaPierre’s suggestion that the effect of a violent culture on the mentally ill has contributed to increased gun violence, but she believes that Congress should pursue some gun control measures.

“I am for the banning of the extended magazines and extended clips,” Noonan said.

Editor and Publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel said that focusing on the mentally ill is a distraction from the issue of gun violence.

“The mental illness argument has been used to evade action,” vanden Huevel said. “More guns and bullets, more dead children.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


EXCLUSIVE: Romney on Obama’s ‘Shoot First, Aim Later’ Attack

ABC/Martin H. Simon(NEW YORK) -- In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos Thursday, Mitt Romney did not back down from his belief that the Obama administration’s first response to the Cairo protest demonstrated “sympathy” for the attackers, but he also made it clear that he was ready to move on.

“What I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well,” Romney told Stephanopoulos.

The Cairo Embassy’s statement, released before the embassy was attacked, said it rejects “the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that the White House did not say the embassy’s statement showed sympathy for the attackers, Romney stuck by his remarks.

“Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way,” he said.

In an interview with 60 Minutes Tuesday, President Obama said the statement “came from folks on the ground, who are potentially in danger. And, you know, my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”

He went on to accuse Romney of displaying a “tendency to shoot first, aim later.”

Romney wouldn’t take the bait.  He didn’t respond directly to the president’s barb the first time he was asked.  When Stephanopoulos posed a follow-up question, all he would say was this: “Well, this is politics. I’m not going to worry about the campaign.”

Romney on the Federal Reserve and QE3

The Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing -- or QE3 -- Thursday, a decision Romney said proves his point that the economy is not bouncing back.

“And now the Federal Reserve, it says, ‘Look, this economy is not going well. They’re going to QE3. They’re going to print more money,” the former governor said.

“What [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke’s doing is saying that what the president’s saying is wrong.  The president’s saying the economy’s making progress, coming back.  Bernanke’s saying, ‘No, it’s not.  I’ve got to print more money.’”

Romney said he doesn’t believe Bernanke’s policies will grow the economy and adds he would appoint another chairman of the Federal Reserve if he is elected president.

“I think we have to have a leadership in Washington that encourages the private sector.  I think printing more money, at this point, comes at a higher cost than the benefit it’s going to create,” Romney said.

Tune in to Good Morning America at 7 a.m. ET Friday for more of ABC News' exclusive interview with Romney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


David Axelrod Insists Classified Leaks Not From White House

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod insisted he is confident that newly launched investigations will show that recent leaks on classified national security information did not come from the White House.

“I think the authors of all of this work have said that the White House was not the source of this information,” Axelrod said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning. “I can’t say that there weren’t leaks. There were obvious leaks, but they weren’t from the White House.”

Axelrod said Obama takes all “life or death decisions” on national security seriously, and that the White House would not leak information that may jeopardize classified operations.

“He understands that when he commits people to missions that their lives are at stake, and the safety of Americans are at stake,” Axelrod said. “And the last thing that he would countenance or anybody around him would countenance are leaks that would jeopardize the security of Americans on these secret missions, and the success of those missions.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have accused the White House of releasing details of various secret operations, including the effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, for political purposes in order to bolster President Obama’s national security credentials before the election.

President Obama disputed that charge Friday at a White House press conference, saying, “The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that two federal prosecutors would lead investigations into the leaks to news outlets, including The New York Times.

When “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos asked if he was confident the investigations would not show White House involvement, Axelrod said “Yes,” citing the administration’s history of cracking down on leaks.

“We have come under attack because we have been tougher on leaks than any administration in recent history and we have been criticized for that,” Axelrod said. “We want to make sure that the people we assign to these very difficult tasks are safe, or as safe as they can be.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John Brennan: Al Qaeda Remains Focused on Planes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said on “This Week” Sunday morning that the United States remains “especially vigilant” as the country marks the one year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. But he also cautioned that a threat remains from al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“On a day that marks the one year anniversary of bin Laden being brought to justice, we are especially vigilant,” Brennan said. “At this time we don’t see any active plot that is underway.”

I asked Brennan about the FBI warning this week that there are new efforts to target Western airports by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“They have demonstrated both the intent as well as the capability to try to carry out an attack,” Brennan said. “They are continuing to try to, again, carry out an attack against U.S. persons inside of Yemen as well as against the homeland.”

Brennan also confirmed that Yemeni al Qaeda offshoot remains focused on targeting planes.

“Aviation has been a target, has been a traditional target of al Qaeda,” Brennan said. ” We need to maintain our vigilance, particularly overseas at these last points of departure.”

Brennan noted that al Qaeda’s capability has been “degraded significantly” and that bin Laden’s death has made a “tremendous difference.”

“It’s taken away the founding leader of that organization who was … a symbol of al Qaeda’s sort of murderous agenda worldwide,” Brennan said. “And so, that has had I think a profound impact on the organization.”

Brennan declined to address—what some Republicans have said this week—was the politicization of the killing of bin Laden by President Obama.

“I don’t do politics. I don’t do the campaign. I am not a Democrat or Republican. I’m a counterterrorism adviser to the president,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Axelrod Post-Debate: No Real Difference Between Perry, Romney

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama’s top political strategist, David Axelrod told ABC’S George Stephanopoulos that Rick Perry is learning that “when you’re the frontrunner you become a target.”

The latest polls show that Republican primary voters now think that Perry is more electable than Mitt Romney, a view not shared by many top strategists in both parties.  But Axelrod said the Obama campaign doesn’t see much difference either way.

“They basically support the same economic theory that got us into the mess in the first place. Tax cuts for the wealthy, special interest tax breaks for corporation like oil companies and letting Wall Street essentially write its own rules,” he said. “I don’t think the American people believe there is greater security in that for them economically and a better future for this country. So either way the debate is going to be largely the same.”

Axelrod kept mum on Social Security and refused to say whether Perry has effectively distanced himself from those passages in Fed Up that Mitt Romney threw at Perry at the GOP debate. He did, however, tie all the candidates together on the issue of jobs:

“I think they should focus on the main problem which is how do we get people back to work and how in the long term do we create security for the middle class,” he said.

The White House laid out how the president plans to pay for his $447 billion jobs plan. And Axelrod said that Congress shouldn’t pick and choose from the Obama proposals.

“The president has a package. The package works together. We need to do many things to get this economy moving and people back to work. Not just one thing,” David Axelrod said.

“We want them to act now on this package. We are not in negotiation to break up the package. And it’s not an a la carte menu. It’s a strategy to get this country moving,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


James Carville: White House ‘Out of Bounds’ for Scheduling Speech During GOP Debate

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Democratic strategist James Carville says the White House was in the wrong when it requested that the president address Congress on the same night and time as a Republican presidential debate.

"I do think this is a really big debate and I think the White House was out of trying to schedule a speech during a debate," Carville told George Stephanopoulos Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

This will be Gov. Rick Perry’s first debate and, as Carville said Thursday morning, the stakes are high.

"Given a choice between watching a debate and the speech I would have watched the debate and I’m not even a Republican or even close to being a Republican," he said, adding that it will be a "barn burner."

The administration agreed to move the speech to Thursday, possibly competing with the kick off of the NFL season instead. The White House has been touting this jobs plan telling ABC News that President Obama will propose tax relief, infrastructure investment and assistance for the long term unemployed.

Obama has received advice from both sides with some arguing for an ambitious proposal and others recommending finding middle ground.

Carville, an ABC News consultant, told Stephanopoulos it doesn’t matter what Obama proposes: it won’t get through Congress.

“Just go out and just document it, it’s not so much that the speech is important George, it’s the follow up after the speech,” he said. "And this is going to have to be what they are going to run the 2012 campaign on...this Congress is not going to pass anything that the president proposes, that is pretty clear.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann to ABC News: Obama's Certificate 'Settles' Birther Issue

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, Rep. Michele Bachmann -- who is actively considering a run for the White House in 2012 -- has said that the birth certificate President Obama has released to the public puts an end to the "birther" issue.

“Last night you were on Fox News suggesting the president should come forward with his birth certificate,” ABC News Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos said Wednesday in an interview with the Minnesota congresswoman.

“One of your supporters in the state of Iowa has put forth a bill that would require presidential candidates to file their birth certificate with their candidacy. Do you support that?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Gov. Jan Brewer just vetoed that bill in Arizona because she felt that that was a bridge too far,” Bachmann explained, referring to H.R. 1503, which would have required presidential campaign committees to file “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate.”

Iowa Senate bill 368, which was introduced by Bachmann supporter Kent Sorenson, contained similar language, saying a candidate should file "a copy of the candidate's birth certificate certified by the appropriate official in the candidate's state of birth."

“I have no problem giving my birth certificate; it wouldn’t bother me at all,” Bachmann said. “I’ve got one. It’s authenticated.”

Stephanopoulos presented Bachmann with a copy of President Obama’s certificate of live birth published on “I have the president’s certificate right here," he said. "It’s certified. It’s got a certification number. It’s got the registrar of the state signed. It’s got a seal on it. And it says, 'This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.'”

“Well, then that should settle it,” Bachmann replied.

“That’s what should settle it,” she said. “I take the president at his word and I think – again – I would have no problem, and apparently the president wouldn’t either. Introduce that, we’re done. Move on.”

“Well this has been introduced. So this story is over?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well, as long as someone introduces it, I guess it’s over,” Bachmann said, before noting that there are more important issues “facing the United States right now.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


V.P. Biden Opens up on Taxes, Gay Marriage and Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The president’s primary negotiator for the tax cut deal on Capitol Hill told ABC's George Stephanopoulos the administration will hold the line in two years when those cuts expire despite the surge of incoming GOP congressmen about to flood Capitol Hill.

“George, that's why I think I felt confident in being asked by the President to negotiate a deal on taxes that the equities and the economic imperatives are going to be to not extend the high end tax cut, which would cost $700 billion over 10 years.  And not extend this overly generous estate tax,” Vice President Joe Biden said.

Is that a guarantee?

“Nothing’s a guarantee,” he said.

“But I think all the equities, if people look at it objectively, are going to say we have to cut spending.  We have to deal with tax revenues.  And the obvious, obvious place to do that is not to add another $700 billion dollars to the debt for the high end tax cuts and/or another $120 billion dollars to the debt for this overly generous estate tax,” Biden said.

Another hot topic during this lame-duck session of Congress – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which Obama signed into law on Wednesday.

The vice president agreed with Obama’s comments that his position on gay marriage is “evolving.”  Biden said there is an “inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage.”

“I think the country's evolving.  And I think you're going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so called DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act],” he said.

The interview with Biden capped off a busy lame-duck session following the passage of the 9/11 health bill, the food safety bill and the Senate ratifying the START treaty.

President Obama called it the “most productive post-election period that we've had in decades.”

Biden – who also had a prominent role in the passage of the nuclear arms deal with Russia – said the combination of the demand for cooperation from the public and the urgency of a short timeframe helped.

“It either makes it impossible or accelerates the prospect of it happening.  And I think in this case it accelerated the prospect of it happening,” he said.

But cooperation will be more challenging next term, he said, and offered words of warning for the new Republicans members.

“I think that what appears to be sort of a slam dunk for some very conservative Republicans' point of view is not-- is going to turn out not to be so easy.  I think there's going to be a need on everyone's part, and a realization that it's in everyone's interest politically to cooperate in dealing with keeping the economy growing and beginning to address the long-term debt,” he said.

This White House took a slight step back from Biden’s comments on NBC this week that the U.S. will be out of Afghanistan by 2014 “come hell or high water.”

But Biden did not back off that statement, saying that he is “absolutely confident” that those withdrawals will take place.

“That was the reason I was so definitive.  It, by the way, it was in the context of my making-- analogizing what we did in Iraq by over a three year period getting out of the cities, then reducing to 100,000 troops, then getting out completely,”  he said.

I asked if that will also include closing Bagram and Kandahar air bases. The answer? Maybe not.

“I think there's equally a prospect that they'll remain open as closed,” Biden said.  “But we're not going to be there with 100-- my generic point was there are not going to be 140,000 ISAF forces, International Security Forces, in Afghanistan by the year 2014.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio