Entries in President Barack Obama (86)


Obama, Biden Could Be Out of Country at Same Time

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- For the first time during this administration, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden might be out of the country at the same time next week.

President Obama is scheduled to depart for Israel on Tuesday evening, the same day that the vice president attends the Inauguration Mass for Pope Francis in Rome.

The vice president’s official schedule for the trip has yet to be released, but there might be a few hours of overlap, with Biden flying back from Italy while the president is already en route to Israel.

“There certainly is a chance that that could happen. I think some of the schedule details are still being nailed down,” White House spokesman Joshua Earnest told reporters Friday aboard Air Force One. “President Obama is President of the United States everywhere he goes. Vice President Biden is Vice President of the United States everywhere that he goes. … This administration is deeply engaged all around the globe to make sure that the interests of the United States are well represented.”

The president and vice president typically do not travel out of the country at the same time for security reasons.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Notable Names on Updated Obama Fundraising List

Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith are among the new names on an updated list of fundraisers released today by the remnants of President Obama’s re-election campaign to reflect fourth quarter contributions.

An Obama for America spokesperson says there were few additions to the list, as the bulk of fundraising came earlier in the race. The 2012 fourth quarter began Oct. 1, just over a month before Election Day.

Smith and Pinkett-Smith are new additions to the list of bundlers who raised north of $500,000. Their appearance is not surprising: In late October the Hollywood couple hosted a fundraising luncheon at their California home for first lady Michelle Obama. The event sold out 250 tickets at a minimum $2,500 per plate.

Other notable names on the list of donors who raised $500,000 or more include former New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, Gwen Stefani and Eva Longoria.

The complete updated list can be found here.

Today’s disclosure was a voluntary move by the campaign. Federal guidelines only require candidates to disclose fundraising from registered lobbyists. Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain agreed to disclose all bundlers who raised upwards of $50,000 during their 2008 election bid; Mitt Romney did not follow suit in this most recent season.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Democrats Hit Mitt Romney for Comment on Teachers, First Responders

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amid swirling criticism from Republicans over President Obama’s characterization of the private sector as doing “fine,” Democrats are seizing on Mitt Romney’s suggestion that the country does not need more teachers and first responders.

Speaking after Obama’s news conference on Friday, Romney assailed the president’s call for more aid to state and local governments to boost hiring.

“His answer for economic vitality…was, of course, pushing aside the private sector, which he said is doing fine.  Instead, he wants to add more to government,” Romney said at an event in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

“He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did.  It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

The Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee blasted out the comments in a series of email statements, web videos and tweets, saying that Romney was advocating the elimination of jobs for firefighters, cops and teachers.

“Not only has Mitt Romney opposed the President’s plan to create one million jobs, he is actually calling for further job loss in the sector that needs the most urgent boost,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

R.T. Ryback, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, said “Romney’s assertion that the American people don’t benefit from firemen, policemen and teachers is so detached from reality I did a double take – I had to check twice to be sure he had actually said it.”

In a web video released Saturday, the Obama campaign juxtaposed recent newspaper headlines that highlight layoffs of state public sector workers with Obama’s call for federal aid to stem the losses. “President Obama has a plan to help,” the video says.

Over the past year, the public sector has shed 161,000 jobs – the vast majority of which were at the state and local level – according to the Labor Department. The private sector added nearly 2 million jobs during the same period.

Romney argued Friday that federal aid to states for public sector hiring is not a prescription for sustainable job creation and that expanding the ranks of government inhibits growth.

“Job creators and small businesses are not ‘doing fine.’ The middle class is not ‘doing fine,’” said Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg, noting that the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 8.2 percent.  “There is no denying that President Obama has been fundamentally hostile to job creators and his policies have prevented our economy from rebounding.”

Henneberg did not clarify as to whether Romney believes the ranks of teachers and first responders, or federal aid for the same, specifically needs to be reduced, as Democrats allege he does.

The attacks by both sides Friday — Republicans on Obama’s private sector remark, Democrats on Romney’s public sector comment — underscored just how much political rhetoric and the perception of insensitivity to average Americans can be exploited by the opposing sides in a rapidly escalating general election campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Axelrod Denies Participating in Anti-Terror Discussions

Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The communications director of President Obama’s reelection campaign today denied a report in the New York Times that he had sat in on weekly White House meetings on terrorism.

On Tuesday the paper said that after the failed 2009 Christmas Day “underwear bombing,” David Axelrod started attending the discussions with Obama and top national security advisers.

The article reads:

 “David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, began showing up at the ‘Terror Tuesday’ meetings, his unspeaking presence a visible reminder of what everyone understood: a successful attack would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and achievements.”

Today on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Axelrod steadfastly denied the claim, telling host Bob Schieffer that he was “flat out asserting that that is not true.”

“There were meetings,” he said. “I know there were weekly meetings dealing with terrorist threats and planning around it, but I did not attend those meetings.”

At the time of the attempted attack, Axelrod was serving as the top political adviser inside the administration. Some conservatives had said the report appeared to be evidence that the White House was actively merging national security issues and partisan politics.

Schieffer noted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., had voiced similar concerns.

“Let me allay his concerns, Bob, because that’s not true,” Axelrod said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Virginia Is For Lovers (Of Electoral Combat)

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Within the next few days both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will take their turn courting voters in Virginia—a state that is already emerging as one of the most intensively contested battleground states in the country.

Why is Virginia so important this year?

One simple reason: No campaign can afford to lose it. Obama can lose Florida and Ohio and still win re-election as long as he carries Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Romney can lose Pennsylvania, but if Obama carries Colorado and Nevada, he’ll need to win Virginia as well as Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.

That’s why Romney is in the state for the second day in a row, campaigning near Norfolk with Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential vice presidential pick and picking up the belated endorsement of a former rival, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Yesterday, the former Massachusetts governor spoke at a women-run company in the Washington, D.C. suburbs telling an audience that, if elected, he would do the “opposite” of President Obama.

“What he’s done over the last three and a half years is install a series of policies that have made it back-breaking for many small businesses, and made it harder for our economy to reboot and put people back to work,” Romney said. “What I would do, people ask me what would you to get the economy going and I say, well look at what the president’s done, and do the opposite.”

But the Obama campaign knows the stakes in Virginia too. They already have a growing infrastructure of satellite offices dotting the state, and the president will pay a visit to Richmond on Saturday—the day he officially kicks off his re-election campaign.

And beyond Virginia, we’re seeing early campaign numbers from other important battlegrounds. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Romney leads Obama in Florida, slightly, 44 percent to 43 percent, but trails in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, Obama is up 47 percent to 39 percent.

The key takeaway, according to Quinnipiac, “voters in Florida and Ohio say Romney would do a better job on the economy.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Biden Says Romney, GOP is Out of Touch

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden “can’t remember” a candidate as out of touch with the American middle class as Mitt Romney, he said in an interview on Sunday.

The claim is not new to the Obama campaign, but in a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday morning the vice president’s remarks advertise the characterization as the Democrats’ new primary line of attack.

“I can’t remember a presidential candidate in the recent past who seems not to understand by what he says what ordinary middle class people are thinking about and are concerned about,” Biden said.

“Out of touch” finger-pointing is certainly not an original idea in politics. Democrats and Republicans have long sought to paint the other side as aloof to the values and everyday hardships of Americans. During the height of the 2008 campaign, attack ads from both sides looked like they were written by the same author.

But the recent focus from the Obama campaign  is intended to dovetail with weeks of debate over the “Buffet Rule,” a bill the White House is pushing that would mandate Americans making more than $1 million a year pay at least the same tax rate as people in the middle class. The GOP maintains the president is engaging in class warfare.

“This is about the middle class,” Biden told CBS. “And none of what [Romney's] offering does anything.”

On the Republicans’ economic agenda, Biden said, “What is the Romney answer? There’s nothing. All they argue is cut. Get rid of that.”

Biden expanded his attack into healthcare and foreign policy, beginning by highlighting the Republican response to the recent controversy over insurance coverage for women’s contraceptives.

“It’s totally out of touch with reality,” he said. “And the right of women to decide for themselves whether or not they want to use contraception.”

The vice president also responded to criticism of the president’s recent open-mic incident with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Biden said Obama was merely “stating the obvious” when he told the foreign leader he would have more “flexibility” in dealing with missile defense after the election.

It was quickly jumped on by the GOP. Romney called the comments “alarming,” telling supporters he viewed Russia as the “number one geopolitical foe” to the United States and asking what else Obama had planned for after November.

Biden, who as a Senator chaired the Foreign Relations Committee, said the candidate was “uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality.”

“It exposes how little the governor knows about foreign policy,” he said, highlighting Russia’s involvement in U.S. supply lines to Afghanistan. “This is not 1956.”

When questioned on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Biden said that despite criticism from Romney on the 2014 drawdown, the timetable reflected polls of waning public support for the war.

“We’ve done the same thing as we did in Iraq,” he said. “This is winding down, not kicking up.”

The Romney campaign was quick to respond to the vice president’s charges. In a written statement spokeswoman Andrea Saul says the interview, “demonstrated just how ‘out of touch’ the Obama Administration is with reality.”

“After three years of record unemployment and skyrocketing gas prices, the only thing President Obama has delivered is a string of broken promises that have decimated the middle class.”

The release asserts White House “failures” to curb rising gas prices, the debt, and deficit spending were the true danger to the general public. The campaign statement cites Politico’s coverage of a Congressional Budget Office report as evidence millions of Americans may lose employer healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum: Obama Wrong to Apologize for Koran Burning

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum slammed President Obama on Sunday morning’s This Week for apologizing to Afghans earlier this week for the recent burning of Korans at a U.S. military base.

“There was nothing deliberately done wrong here. This was something that happened as a mistake. Killing Americans in uniform is not a mistake,” Santorum said. “Say it’s unfortunate, but to apologize for something that was not an intentional act is something that the President of the United States in my opinion should not have done.”

Protests erupted in Afghanistan after the accidental burning and two American troops were killed by an an Afghan soldier.

“I think it shows weakness,” Santorum said about the apology.

Santorum is not the first Republican to criticize President Obama for his actions. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said it was “an outrage” for the president to issue an apology.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Laura Ingraham: Romney Has to Bring ‘A’ Game to Beat Obama

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said that Republican front-runner Mitt Romney may have a difficult time challenging President Obama in the general election if Obama wows crowds in 2012 the same way he did Saturday night at the Alfalfa Club Dinner.

Obama spoke at the 99th annual Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday evening, a closed dinner that is a who’s who of the Washington elite.

“A bunch of us sitting next to each other, very prominent conservatives, former Bush cabinet members, we’re looking at each other going, I don’t know if Mitt Romney can beat him,” Ingraham said Sunday on the This Week roundtable.

“He’s got to bring his ‘A’ game,” Ingraham said of Romney. “It can’t just be, you know, the kind of thing he’s doing with [Newt] Gingrich, because Obama’s operation is really smart, and I think they’re going to run a tough campaign.”

Ingraham said that Gingrich is starting to show the signs of weakness in his effort to become a serious challenger to Romney’s campaign.

“There’s a rule of thumb in politics,” Ingraham said. “If you’re at a point where you’re complaining about the other guy being mean and unfair and uncivil, that’s probably a sign that you’re losing. And that’s what he’s facing right now.”

Romney continues to widen his lead just days before the Florida primary, with two polls this weekend showing a double-digit lead for the former Massachusetts governor over the former House speaker.

“Time is not Newt Gingrich’s friend, because the more time he has, the more he talks. And the more he talks, the more he says things,” ABC’s George Will said.

But where time is not Gingrich’s friend, taxes are trouble for Romney in a general election, ABC’s Donna Brazile said.

ABC’s Austan Goolsbee said Romney’s tax returns will be a problem for him in a general election against Obama.

“There’s never been an actual candidate who personified the pathologies of the tax code that the president’s been running against for the last several years,” Goolsbee said, referring to Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, like Warren Buffett and Romney, who pay a lower rate than the middle class.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Huntsman Will Drop Out of Republican Race

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, a campaign spokesman told ABC News.

A source close to the Huntsman campaign said the former ambassador to China and Utah Governor was “proud of the race that he ran” but “did not want to stand in the way” of rival Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Huntsman plans to endorse Romney at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in Myrtle Beach, SC.

After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire – a contest on which he had staked his candidacy – Huntsman vowed to fight on. In his concession speech in New Hampshire, he told his supporters:  “I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!”

But just six days from the South Carolina primary, Huntsman has said goodbye to the Palmetto state after all.

A Huntsman aide tells ABC News that the decision came in the wake of the results in the New Hampshire primary.

“He has been discussing with his family after they woke up after a successful evening in New Hampshire. They felt good about their performance in New Hampshire, but he and his family had a discussion and this is the decision came to,” the aide said. “At the end of the day he decided he did not want to hurt the best chance of beating Barack Obama and that’s Mitt Romney. By continuing into South Carolina and Florida, that’s what he would have been doing.”

While Huntsman will be throwing his support to Romney on Monday, it was only a week ago that he told ABC’s John Berman just the opposite.

When asked if he trusts Governor Romney, Huntsman replied, “He has not put forth reason to give us a reason for us to trust him.”

Earlier this month, he told another ABC reporter that Romney is “completely out of touch.”

And as recently as Saturday, Huntsman was questioning Romney’s electability.

Reporters asked Huntsman if any of the Republican establishment  had reached out to him and asked him to tone down his criticism of Romney and his work with Bain Capital. Huntsman explained:
“Nope. And listen. I have said what I have said. My problem is really a political issue. And that is, when you have a candidate that talks about enjoyment in firing people, talks about pink-slips, who makes comment that seem to be so detached from the problems that Americans are facing today. that makes you pretty much unelectable. And I say, we want a nominee who can actually go on to win. That’s the issue…. the bigger issue is one of electability.”

Huntsman, 51, entered the race last summer to high expectations, but he struggled from the start to win over conservative Republican voters.

Huntsman is now the fourth Republican candidate to drop out of the campaign. Tim Pawlenty, the former governor Minnesota, dropped out last summer after a disappointing finish in the Iowa straw poll. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota dropped out just after the Iowa Caucus and businesman Herman Cain left the race in a storm of sexual harassment allegations.  With Huntsman’s endorsement of Romney on Monday as well as Pawlenty’s endorsement of Romney last summer, two of the four have thrown their support behind the former Massachusetts governor. The other two – Cain and Bachmann – have yet to endorse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Book Highlights Michelle Obama and White House Tensions

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new book about the first family shows the evolution of Michelle Obama.

The book, The Obamas written by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, will be released on Tuesday and delves into the evolution of the First Lady and her struggles to forge a role in her new position.

In an excerpt published by the New York Times on Friday, Michelle Obama is said to have been reluctant to move immediately into the White House and preferred instead to wait until the children's school year ended. This and other incidents served to paint the First Lady as a reluctant participant in her new role.

The Obamas declined to be interviewed for the book though the author interviewed over 200 former and current aides and staff.  Reports of tensions between Michelle Obama and the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as well other members of the president's inner circle revealed a less than cohesive unit than appeared to the public. Emanuel reportedly offered to resign after Michelle Obama expressed annoyance at advisors' handling of the health care legislation.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz responded to the book saying: "This is the author's take, reflecting her own opinions, on a remarkably strong relationship the President and First Lady – both of whom share an unwavering commitment to each other, and to improving the lives of Americans. The book, an over dramatization of old news, is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years. The author last interviewed the Obamas in 2009 for a magazine piece, and did not interview them for this book.  The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the President and First Lady, reflect little more than the author's own thoughts.  These second-hand accounts are staples of every Administration in modern political history and often exaggerated."

The author portrays Michelle Obama eventually embracing her new role and becoming active in several causes including combating childhood obesity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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