Entries in Jim Messina (8)


Karl Rove: ‘I Could’ Imagine Next GOP Presidential Nominee Supporting Gay Marriage

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Fox News contributor and former Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove said Sunday morning on This Week that he can imagine the next Republican nominee for the White House supporting gay marriage.

“I could,” Rove said on the This Week roundtable.

Rove’s comments came days after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, whom Mitt Romney considered as a running mate in the 2012 election, announced that he had shifted his position and supported gay marriage. The vast majority of Republicans in Congress do not support same-sex marriage. Portman is the only sitting senator in the GOP to support same-sex marriage.

The Powerhouse Roundtable also addressed gun violence-prevention measures now being discussed in Congress. Rove said that universal background checks would not have stopped the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 20 children dead in December.

“Let’s be clear about this, this was prompted by the Sandy Hook murders.  Those guns were legally purchased with a background check,” Rove said. “This would not have solved something like that.  Let’s be very careful about quickly trampling on the rights of people.”

Former Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina pushed back, arguing the importance of background checks.

“Look, 40 percent of all gun sales currently don’t go through background checks.  The background checks have stopped two million people from getting guns they shouldn’t get,” Messina said. “But we know there are loopholes all over the place. And Karl, just saying no, which is what the NRA and your party is doing right now, isn’t moving us forward.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Camp to Romney: Five Years of Tax Returns and We'll Lay Off

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has promised the campaign will stop pressing Mitt Romney on his tax returns if the presumptive Republican presidential nominee releases five years of returns.

In a letter to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, Messina writes, "Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide.  So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: if the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more -- neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign."

The five years Messina is requesting covers "the complete returns for 2007-2012," which he says "would appropriately span all the years that he has been a candidate for President."

"It would also help answer outstanding questions raised by the one return he has released to date, such as the range in the effective rates paid, the foreign accounts maintained, the foreign investments made, and the types of tax shelters used," he continues.

So far, Romney has released his tax returns for 2010 and a preliminary filing for 2011.

"To provide these five years, the Governor would have to release only three more sets of returns in addition to the 2010 return he has released and the 2011 return he has pledged to provide.  And, I repeat, the Governor and his campaign can expect in return that we will refrain from questioning whether he has released enough or pressing for more," Messina concludes.

Rhoades responded to Messina's letter, saying, "It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending."

"If Governor Romney’s tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days," he continued.  "In the meantime, Governor Romney will continue to lay out his plans for a stronger middle class, to save Medicare, to put work back into welfare, and help the 23 million Americans struggling to find work in the Obama economy."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Hits Obama on Lobbyist Meetings at ‘Caribou’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an election-year effort to cast President Obama as a “typical politician,” Republicans are highlighting the administration’s alleged hypocrisy on transparency in holding meetings with lobbyists off White House grounds in order to keep them secret.

While the meetings have been extensively reported before by ABC News and the New York Times, a new report published Tuesday by House Republicans exposed a raft of email messages between industry lobbyists and Obama administration officials deliberately making plans to rendezvous off-site to avoid detection.

In several cases, the officials’ messages were sent from non-governmental, personal email accounts, which Republicans allege was intended to keep the correspondence from the public record.

“Jim – coffee at Caribou Coffee – across the corner from the WH – would work at 11:30 a.m. on Friday…plus getting you through the new WH security rules these days almost takes an act of Congress almost (and you know how well that’s going these days),” wrote one official in the White House Office of Science and Technology policy to an executive in the GPS industry.  ”[P]lus you’d appear on an official WH Visitor List which is maybe not want [sic] you want at this stage …”

Other emails show then White House chief of staff Jim Messina using a non-governmental account to discuss language for the health care reform bill with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.  In one message from March 2010, Messina assures the lobbyist he would overcome opposition from then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to achieve more favorable legislation.

“I will roll [P]elosi to get the 4 billion,” Messina told Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America lobbyist Jeffrey Forbes.  “As you may have heard I am literally rolling over the house.  But there just isn’t 8-10 billion.”

Republicans say Messina’s emails from his personal account potentially violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all official executive branch communications be archived for public record.

In a new web video and conference call with reporters, the Republican National Committee blasted Obama, who pledged to make his administration the most transparent in history.

“The Obama White House is actively deceiving the American people and they are doing it over a Caribou latte,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus told reporters, referring to the coffee shop where many of the undisclosed meetings with lobbyists occurred.

“This president does not want the American people to know who they are meeting with on a day-to-day basis,” Priebus said.  “They have had many meetings at coffee houses, so we have no way of knowing what insider deals they are cutting with lobbyists with taxpayers’ money.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney, who called the House Republicans’ report an attempt to distract from more weighty policy issues, insisted administration officials did not attempt to avoid detection by using non-White House email accounts or holding off-site meetings.

“Mr. Messina had a longstanding personal email account in which he got traffic.  In an effort to comply with all the regulations pertaining to emails, he would forward emails to his White House account or copy his White House account so that those emails would be part of presidential record,” Carney said.

Asked whether it is White House policy to hold some meetings off-site to avoid individuals’ names in the visitor logs, Carney demurred.

“I don’t have anything on this specific issue,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama's Campaign Manager Addresses Concerns Over Polls

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In a new video message to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina directly addresses concerns over recent polls that show a tightening of the race and offers his outlook on the electoral map.

“Over the past few weeks I’ve had people asking me about all the polls I’ve seen. I say the same thing to all of them: We knew this was going to be a tough race. And once Mitt Romney locked up the nomination, Republicans would get behind him and this race would be tight, just like we always knew it would be,” he says to the camera.  

“You know what really matters in a really close election? The unprecedented grassroots organizing we’re doing every day in states across the country. We’re following the strategy we’ve had since Day One, and we can’t afford to lose focus on that,” Messina says.  

Turning to the electoral map, Messina most notably sees Wisconsin as a “toss-up” for the general election. He also lists Arizona as a “lean Republican” instead of solid red.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President and Campaign Manager Jim Messina to Appear at Senate Dems Retreat

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and his re-election campaign manager Jim Messina will appear together Wednesday at an annual Senate Democrats retreat to be held at Nationals Park, campaign and Capitol Hill aides tell ABC News.

Both men are expected to address the meeting, which typically focuses on developing a policy agenda and political strategy for the coming election campaign. The event is closed to the public and the press.

“This is a much more informal atmosphere. This is not a speech per se, it’s a conversation with the president, one of our former colleagues, and we’re all looking forward to it,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters.

The joint appearance on Capitol Hill is apparently a first this election cycle for Obama and Messina, a former Hill staffer and deputy White House chief of staff.

It also follows Messina’s announcement Monday night that the campaign would change course and encourage support for a pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action.  Aides said Tuesday that Obama “signed off” on the decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Changing Positions, Obama Campaign Will Push Support for Democratic Super PAC

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- In a conference call with members of President Obama’s 2012 re-election committee Monday evening, campaign manager Jim Messina announced that donors should start funding Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC run by two former White House staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney.

“Given the amount of money that the Republican super PACs have raised we decided to express more explicitly support for Priorities USA and its mission, which is re-electing the president,” a top campaign official told ABC News.

Burton and Sweeney left the White House in February 2011 to start Priorities USA, which has two components.

Priorities USA Action is the super PAC arm and it must disclose the names and amounts of donors. It can raise and spend unlimited funds, including from corporations and unions, on overt electioneering. Priorities USA is a non-profit 501c organization that does not disclose its donors, but can’t do overt electioneering -- only issue/policy advocacy.

The Obama campaign is encouraging support for the super PAC -- the one that discloses.

You may recall the president made a big issue opposing the non-disclosing groups in the 2010 midterm elections in which Democrats lost the House. Specifically, President Obama repeatedly protested the way these groups filled the airwaves with television ads -- essentially from anonymous contributors.

“They don’t have the courage to stand up and disclose their identities,” President Obama said on Oct. 15, 2010, of these groups’ donors while campaigning in Wilmington, Del. “They could be insurance companies or Wall Street banks or even foreign-owned corporations. We will not know because there’s no disclosure. But this isn’t just a threat to the Democrats: It’s a threat to our democracy.”

Messina said on the call Monday evening, and emailed supporters, that Republican super PACs have “spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads,” just in the last few months:

“Last week, filings showed that the super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies … With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Priorities USA Action posted comparatively weak fundraising totals for 2011, raising just $4.4 million in all, per its filing with the Federal Election Commission, and ending the year with just $1.5 million cash on hand. The donor base was also small -- only 46 individuals gave in the second half of last year. Most of them are Obama campaign donors from 2008 and 2012 who maxed out and wanted to give more; two of the most notable and generous are Jeffrey Katzenberg ($2 million) and Steven Spielberg ($100,000).

Senior campaign and White House officials as well as some Cabinet members will appear at events that raise money for Priorities USA Action, though they themselves will not solicit funds, the campaign official said. (Cabinet officials who raise money for the campaign include Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan; those who don’t include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder.)

Messina noted that “the president, vice president, and first lady will not be a part of this effort; their political activity will remain focused on the President’s campaign.”

“As has become evident in the past month, the only enthusiasm in the Republican Party is among oil company billionaires and investment bankers on Wall Street looking to defeat President Obama,” Burton said in a statement. “We’re committed to providing a balance to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers who have pledged more than half a billion dollars to their effort.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Axelrod, Messina Ding Romney’s Win: ‘Still the 25 Percent Man’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- President Obama’s top campaign advisers, David Axelrod and Jim Messina, on Wednesday put their spin on the Iowa caucus results, dinging Mitt Romney as “still the 25 percent man.”

Axelrod hammered Romney for the fact that he and his affiliated super PAC spent more than $4 million in Iowa before the caucus and still ended up with six votes fewer than he won four years ago.

Romney “entered as a weak frontrunner, and he leaves as a weak frontrunner,” Axelrod told reporters on a conference call. “The question is why. Why are people questioning Gov. Romney?”

Democratic and Obama strategists have for weeks been pushing a narrative of Romney as a flip-flopper without a “core,” hurtling to the extreme right in a competitive campaign. Axelrod portrayed Tuesday night’s outcome as affirming their belief.

“Had he won a resounding victory…and transcended what he had done before, I think you could have argued persuasively that he was bringing that party together and that he was in a position to close this out,” he said. “I don’t think that happened last night…it is very possible that this race will go on for a while.”

Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, set the expectations bar high for Romney staging a “victory” next Tuesday night in New Hampshire.

“He’s been leading these polls in New Hampshire by 30-some points. He needs to hold that,” Messina said, when asked what benchmark he’d set for Romney. “He’s got to win by 30 points or so here to continue this momentum. It’s a home game for him.”

As to whether Team Obama had any concerns about former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s rise, Axelrod reprised a line he used to ding Newt Gingrich three weeks ago, tacitly implying the answer was "no."

“Now it’s Santorum who’s climbed up the pole, and as I’ve said about Gingrich, Americans will judge whether they like the view,” he said.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul responding to Axelrod’s characterization of the Romney win in Iowa, called it an attempt to distract attention from the president’s economic record.

“President Obama’s cronies spend more time strategizing about Mitt Romney than they do strategizing how to create jobs for the 25 million people who are out of work,” Saul wrote in an email. “For the near 9-percent unemployed -- and the millions more who feel the country is on the wrong track -- help is finally on the way. The campaign to defeat Barack Obama and get this economy working again has begun.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Obama Re-Election Effort Begins

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House officials tell ABC News that President Obama is closing the political office of the White House as he re-tools and prepares for the 2012 re-election campaign.

These changes include:

* Having his 2012 re-election HQ in Chicago (a search for office space in downtown Chi-town has begun)
* Filing papers with the Federal Election Commission to formally declare his candidacy in March or so
* Assigning soon-to-be-leaving White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina to be campaign manager
* Appointing as deputy campaign managers current White House social secretary Julianna Smoot (finance director of the 2008 campaign), and executive director of the Democratic National Committee Jennifer O’Malley Dillon who focused on battleground states in 2008. Smoot will focus on finances while Dillon focuses on field operations
* Moving current White House political director Patrick Gaspard to run the DNC (Tim Kaine will remain chairman) with the DNC assuming the role of the White House political office

Messina, in addition to looking for office space, has started talking to fundraisers and lining up consultants; outgoing White House senior adviser David Axelrod and outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs will serve as two of those consultants.

White House senior adviser David Plouffe will be the key liaison between the campaign and the White House.

“There’s not going to be two dueling power centers,” Plouffe told the New York Times, which first reported the news. “The philosophy of this campaign will not be that the White House is somehow running the campaign. The people running the campaign are in charge of the campaign. That’s the way the president wants it. We’ll do it in a coordinated way, but they’re running this thing.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio