Entries in Obama (61)


Obama on 60th Anniversary of Armistice: Korean War a Victory, Not a Tie

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Saturday honored the 60th anniversary of the peace armistice that brought an end to the Korean War, which claimed more than 2.5 million lives over three years.

The armistice put an end to fighting in the war, but left a military stalemate that goes on today, with North and South Korea separated by a Demilitarized Zone left in the wake of that conflict.

The president laid a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, paying tribute to those who served in the war, which the U.S. fought from 1950 to 1953. Before an estimated 5,000 people, Obama spoke about the “forgotten war,” the soldiers who fought in it — many of them now in their 80s — and the nation’s eagerness to forget the war and move on.

“On this 60th anniversary, perhaps the highest tribute we can offer our veterans of Korea is to do what should have been done the day you come home. In our hurried lives, let us pause. Let us listen. Let these veterans carry us back to the days of their youth and let us be awed by their shining deeds,” Obama said. “Listen closely and hear the story of a generation, veterans of World War II recalled to duty, husbands kissing their wives goodbye yet again, young men — some just boys, 18, 19, 20 years old — leaving behind everyone they loved to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

The memorial itself is part of the country’s attempt to right a wrong, Obama said. President George H.W. Bush conducted the memorial’s groundbreaking in 1992, nearly 40 years after the war ended.

The president also noted that thousands of American POWs, and soldiers missing in action in Korea, still have not been found.

“To this day, 7,910 Americans are still missing from the Korean War, and we will not stop working until we give these families a full accounting of their loved ones,” the president said.

Obama called Korea a lesson in military preparedness, pointing out that after a quick draw-down from World War II, U.S. troops were left under-equipped, firing rockets that bounced off North Korean tanks.

As the U.S. begins to draw down in Afghanistan, soon after leaving Iraq, Obama pledged the U.S. will maintain the strongest military in the world. And the president disputed the notion that the war had ended in a tie, with North and South Korea divided by the DMZ along the 38th parallel.

“Here, today, we can say with confidence, that war was no tie. Korea was a victory,” the president said to applause. “When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom, a vibrant democracy, one of the world’s most dynamic economies, in stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the North, that is a victory and that is your legacy.”

The president was joined by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who laid their own wreaths. Also in attendance were Special Envoy from the Republic of Korea Kim Jung Hun.

“The veterans we honor today were the young we sent to the mud of Korea with very little notice. The lessons are many, as are the arguments about how they should have been better prepared and equipped to fight that expeditionary mission,” Shinseki said. “What is unarguable, however, is the heroism with which these veterans performed their missions.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Golfs with ESPN Hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Able to play golf with pretty much anyone he wants, President Obama is spending his Saturday on a military course with ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, co-hosts of Pardon the Interruption.

Saturday is Kornheiser’s 65th birthday, as was mentioned on the ESPN show Friday.

They’re playing at Fort Belvoir, a military base off I-95 about 30 minutes south of the White House. Wilbon and Kornheiser did not ride with the president in his motorcade, which arrived at 10:15 a.m., according to pool reports.

On Friday, Wilbon, Kornheiser, and Tony Reali — host of ESPN’s Around the Horn and PTI’s longtime on-air fact-checker — ate lunch at the White House and visited with Obama in the Oval Office.

Reali described the visit in a YouTube video posted to the Around the Horn channel.

“Coolest experience of my life,” he said.

Two years ago, Obama told Reali and frequent guest Kevin Blackistone that Around the Horn is the only TV show he watches, Reali said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama’s Remarks Go Missing in Embarrassing Moment of the Day

Win McNamee/Getty Images(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- When President Obama stepped up to the podium Friday morning, the cameras were rolling, the stage was perfectly set and reporters were eagerly awaiting his remarks on health care. But something was missing.

“There’s only one problem, and that is that my remarks are not sitting here,” Obama said, as he looked at the barren podium. “People!

“By Friday afternoon, things can get a little challenged,” he quipped.

White House staffers frantically scanned the room and reporters chuckled as the president waited … and waited.

“People!” Obama shouted again.

A shaken staffer finally emerged with the remarks, tripping as he rushed onto the stage to deliver them to the president.

“Oh, goodness,” Obama said, smiling. “Folks are sweating back there right now.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Golfs Ahead of WH Correspondents’ Dinner

Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spent Saturday afternoon at the golf course, just a few hours before he is set to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner later in the evening.

The president golfed at Joint Base Andrews with former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and White House aides Marvin Nicholson and Michael Brush.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend the annual dinner held by the White House Correspondents Association at the Washington Hilton hotel Saturday evening where journalists, politicians and celebrities will have the chance to see the president’s comedic side in action alongside comedian Conan O’Brien, who is the guest entertainer for tonight’s soiree.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


SNL Spoofs Senate's Work On Gun Control

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Days after the Senate cleared a significant hurdle in the debate on new gun measures, Saturday Night Live took aim at the Senate’s work on gun control in its cold open sketch last night, spoofing the Senate’s cloture vote on guns and the Manchin-Toomey background check deal reached this week.

"This week The Senate voted 68 to 31 to begin debating the idea of discussing gun control," the President Obama character, who is played by Jay Pharaoh, said of the Senate’s cloture vote Thursday. "Let me say that again. They've agreed to think about talking about gun control."

Obama then called on Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., played by Jason Sudeikis, and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., portrayed by Bill Hader, to join him on stage to tout the background check deal they brokered this week.

"These men risked everything for this bill," he said. "I mean, Senator Manchin represents West Virginia and he's proposing gun reform? He's gonna lose his job. And Senator Toomey, this man is a Republican who is willing to make just the slightest compromise on gun control? He's going to lose his job too."

"If our bill passes, no individual can purchase a handgun from a private dealer without being asked, 'Are you a good person?' as well as the follow-up question, 'Seriously, are you?'" the Toomey character said.

"Is this bill what we wanted? No," the Manchin character said. "Is it what the NRA wanted? No.  But does it at least help in some small way? No. Probably not."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


President Obama's Weekly Address: Reducing Gun Violence 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama calls on Congress to pass "commonsense measures" to protect the nation's children by reducing gun violence.

The president says in the three months since 20 innocent children and six dedicated adults were lost in the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, Americans "began asking ourselves if we’re really doing enough to protect our communities and keep our children safe."

Those three months, he says, have forced the nation to answer difficult questions about what can be done to prevent the kinds of massacres that occurred in Newtown, Aurora and Oak Creek, and everyday tragedies that take place in cities and towns across America.

"Today there is still genuine disagreement among well-meaning people about what steps we should take to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country," Obama says. "But you – the American people – have spoken.  You’ve made it clear that it’s time to do something.  And over the last few weeks, Senators here in Washington have listened and taken some big steps forward."

Obama mentions actions the Senate has taken in an effort to make changes to reduce gun violence: advancing a bill to make it harder for criminals and people with severe mental illness to obtain guns; making progress on another bill to crack down on any gun buyer who intends to funnel it to criminals; and reinstating and strengthening a military-style assault weapons ban as well as setting a 10-round limit for magazines.

"These ideas shouldn’t be controversial – they’re common sense. They’re supported by a majority of the American people.  And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote," he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Calls Sequester ‘Dumb,’ Blames Uncooperative Republicans 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Dumb, inexcusable and unnecessary. Just a few of the adjectives President Obama used to describe the $85 billion in spending cuts that will kick-in Friday after a last ditch effort to broker a compromise with congressional leaders failed.  

In a hastily announced appearance in the White House briefing room, a deflated Obama insisted he’s done everything in his power to avert the across-the-board sequester cuts and put the majority of the blame on Republicans.

“I can make the best possible argument. And I can offer concessions and I can offer compromise. I can negotiate. I can make sure that my party is willing to compromise and is not being ideological or thinking about these just in terms of political terms. And I think I've done that, and I will continue to do that,” he said. “But what I can't do is force Congress to do the right thing.”

“I am not a dictator, I'm the president,” he added.

“I've put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem. I've offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach,” explained Obama. “And so far we've gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue; we can't do a dime's worth of revenue.”

The president also continued to soften his warning. While insisting the “pain” will be real, he admitted “not everybody is going to feel it. Not everybody's going to feel it all at once.”

“This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think as some people have said. It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt individual people, and it's going to hurt the economy overall,” he concluded.

Officials have said the spending reductions immediately take effect Saturday but that the pain from reduced government services and furloughs of tens of thousands of federal employees would be felt gradually in the weeks ahead.

During the announcement Obama also lamented his lack of Jedi powers, saying that he couldn’t “do a Jedi mind meld” with Republicans to “convince them to do what’s right.” Twitter was quick to note the president’s minor gaffe -- mixing up Star Wars’ “Jedi mind trick" with Star Trek’s “Vulcan mind meld.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Enlists Governors to Help Get Sequester Deal

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With less than five days to prevent $85 billion in sweeping, automatic budget cuts, President Obama Monday asked the nation’s governors to help pressure Congress to compromise on a deal to avert the sequester.

“There are always going to be areas where we have some genuine disagreement,” the president told a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House. “But there are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than I think we've seen over the last several years.”

“To do that, though, this town has to get past its obsession with focusing on the next election instead of the next generation. All of us are elected officials. All of us are concerned about our politics, both in our own party's as well as the other party's. But at some point we've got to do some governing,” he said.

The president appealed to governors for help convincing lawmakers to act. “I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk, because here's the thing: These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise,” he said.

Obama said he’s willing to meet Republicans halfway and underscored that he stands by his commitment to cut spending. “Democrats, like me, need to acknowledge that we're going to have to make modest reforms in Medicare if we want the program there for future generations and if we hope to maintain our ability to invest in critical things like education, research and infrastructure. I've made that commitment,” he said.

But Republicans will need to give as well, he said. “We also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago. Under our concept of tax reform, nobody's rates would go up but we'd be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected,” he added.

“I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word, and they figure they'll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism. But as governors, some of you with legislatures controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done, and so is prioritizing, making smart choices,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama a Skeet Shooter? President Asks Gun Control Advocates to Listen More

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amid a push from the White House and progressive Democrats for tighter gun control laws, President Obama revealed Sunday he made time for shooting during retreats. The revelation came in an interview published Sunday morning in which the president was asked if he had ever held a gun.

“Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he responded to the New Republic.

“Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake,” he said.

Last week the president signed several executive orders strengthening gun regulation and revealed proposals that, if enacted, would include bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

The measures are expected to face an uphill battle in Congress and from opponents who believe they would be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. Some Republican lawmakers, however, have expressed openness to elements of the hypothetical bill, including a universal background check system for gun sales.

Obama said he understood the realities of dealing with weapons in urban areas versus rural America.

“If you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family’s traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that,” he told the magazine.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Thursday found 53 percent of Americans viewed Obama’s gun control plan favorably, 41 percent unfavorably. Recognizing the division, the president said some lobbies in favor of restricting gun access needed to seek common ground.

“It’s trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months,” he said. “And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes.”

The interview was published a day after several thousand demonstrators in favor of stronger gun control marched on the nation’s capital. The crowd was joined by some families of victims from the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting in December.

The relatively candid New Republic interview mostly focused on the strained political climate in Washington and how the president weighed issues such as immigration and Syria going into his second term. But the one-on-one also tackled a less weighty topic: Whether the president — an avid football watcher — viewed the professional sport differently in light of heightened national awareness of its health dangers.

“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” he said, adding he expected the sport to gradually change to “reduce some of the violence,” albeit at the cost of drama.

“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” he said. “You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Heidi Heitkamp: Reported Obama Gun Proposals ‘Way in Extreme’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. said Sunday morning on “This Week”  that while all options should be on the table to address gun violence, President Obama’s reported plans to curve shootings are ”way in extreme” when asked about the types of measures she could potentially support.

“I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration — and if the Washington Post is to be believed — that’s way — way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about.  And it’s not going to pass,” said Heitkamp, a member of the National Rifle Association.

Heitkamp – who has an A rating from the NRA and was elected in a state that Gov. Mitt Romney won by nearly 20 points – stressed the importance of addressing mental health as part of the effort to curve violent shootings.

“Let’s start addressing the problem.  And to me, one of the issues that I think comes — screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill.  And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control,” said Heitkamp.

The renewed effort to address gun violence by the White House comes after 20 children were shot and killed last month in Newtown, Conn.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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