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Entries in President Barack Obama (86)

Tuesday
Mar292011

President Obama Pledged He’d Quit Cigarettes If Healthcare Bill Passed

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Around this time last year, President Obama quit smoking -- a move that was, according to a friend of President Obama, directly tied to the passage of the healthcare bill.

The friend tells ABC News that during the myriad struggles to pass the controversial health care legislation, President Obama made a commitment to himself that “if he got it done he'd stop.”

President Obama signed the health care bill into law on March 23, 2010. His attempt to quit cigarettes “started in the couple of weeks after,” the friend said.

The president has been using nicotine gum and celery sticks to help him kick the habit.

In February, first lady Michelle Obama offered another motivation for the president’s latest attempt to quit, saying her husband wanted to be able to look his daughters Malia and Sasha in the eye and tell them honestly he doesn’t smoke.

Another less discussed nudge for the president towards a cigarette-free existence: President Obama’s White House trip director and golf pal Marvin Nicholson, from whom it has been said the president would occasionally bum smokes, quit smoking a few weeks before the president did.

Nicholson, who uses the anti-cigarette prescription drug Chantix, is still cigarette-free.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

Clinton Urges World To Squeeze Gadhafi From Power

PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In her remarks to a London conference on Libya Tuesday, which brought together representatives from 40 countries and other organizations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the international community to step up the pressure on Gadhafi to leave power.

“All of us have to continue the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gadhafi regime.  This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gadhafi he must go, that sends a strong message of accountability, and that sharpens the choice for those around him,” she said.

“As President Obama said last night, while our military mission is focused on saving lives, we must continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to the Libyan people.  Now, we cannot and must not attempt to impose our will on the people of Libya, but we can and must stand with them as they determine their own destiny.  And we have to speak with one voice in support of a transition that leads to that time,” Clinton added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

What McConnell Wants to Hear from the President 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of President Obama’s speech Monday on Libya, the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, took to the Senate floor to outline what he hopes to hear from the commander-in-chief.

“If the American people are uncertain as to our military objectives in Libya, it is with good cause,” McConnell said. “The president has failed to explain up to this point what follows the evident establishment of a nofly zone over Libya as it was originally described. Further, the president has articulated a wider political objective of regime change in Libya that is not the stated objective of our military intervention, nor is it the mandate of the UN resolution that the president has used as a justification for our military efforts there.”

“So now that the objective of establishing a no fly zone has been reached and our NATO allies are ready to assume the command and execution of this mission, it’s fair to ask: what is the role of our military and our military alliance in providing support to an opposition that we are only now beginning to understand? These concerns and questions are equally relevant here in the Senate and in the Congress since it is the responsibility of Congress to declare war if it is war and, of course, to fund our military operations.”

McConnell argued that the president’s decision to launch U.S. military action in Libya was “taken without adequate consultation with Congress or sufficient explanation to the American people,” making the president’s speech Monday night “welcome and…overdue.”

The top GOP senator rattled off a list of questions that he would like to hear the president answer Monday evening.

“When will the U.S. combat role in the operation end? Will America’s commitment end in days, not weeks, as the president promised? What will be the duration of the non-combat operation and what will be the cost? What national security interests of the United States justified the risk of American life? What is the role of our country in Libya’s ongoing civil war? The president made clear that our combat forces’ role in Libya will be limited in scope and duration. Tonight, I hope he will reiterate that pledge or ask Congress before extending the duration or scope of our mission there.” 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Rep. Van Hollen: Congress Guarding Against 'Mission Creep' in Libya

vanhollen[dot]house[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama prepares to address the nation on military operations in Libya, some of his allies in Congress are growing anxious for further clarity on the scope and limits of the mission.

On ABC’s Top Line Monday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen said while the president acted within his powers in ordering the attack, members of Congress need assurances that the actions are “limited” and will not include the deployment of U.S. ground troops.

“I do not think the president overstepped his authority,” Van Hollen, D-Md., says. “The president was working with the international community and had to respond in a very rapid fashion to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians in Libya.”

Moving ahead, he said, “we're all looking very much…forward to what he has to say tonight. There are of course concerns that this mission not result in ‘mission creep,’ and there's nobody that I know of that supports the notion of putting any U.S. ground forces on the ground. We want to make sure this is as limited and focused a military action as possible.”

Van Hollen said he and his colleagues may push to have the mission approved in a formal way by Congress.

“Of course there's concern” inside Congress about the president’s actions to date, he said. “There are a number of options available. I mean, people may want to take up a resolution with respect to the use of force in Libya. But that will be a conversation that takes place between Democrats and Republicans in the House, and in the Senate, of course.”

“I think the president has taken the path that he had to take. And now it is his responsibility to address the nation, as he is going to do tonight.”

On the looming (again) budget standoff, Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said while there is agreement that another short-term patch isn’t the solution, “that’s where the agreement ends.”

"Speaker [John] Boehner is really been sort of captured by the Tea Party wing of his party and the House of Representatives…You have this sort of situation where instead of having the speaker whip his caucus, the Tea Party element of his caucus is whipping the speaker.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar272011

Gates: Was Not 'Vital National Interest' to Intervene in Libya

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Libya did not pose a threat to the United States before the U.S. began its military campaign against the North African country.

On ABC's This Week, when asked if Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States, Gates responded, "No, no."

In a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their first since the Libya operation began, Gates said, "It was not -- it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about. The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake."

Gates explained that there was more at stake. "There was another piece of this though, that certainly was a consideration. You've had revolutions on both the East and the West of Libya," he said, emphasizing the potential wave of refugees from Libya could have destabilized Tunisia and Egypt.

During his campaign for the presidency, in December, 2007, Barack Obama told The Boston Globe that "The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Earlier in 2007, then-Senator Hillary Clinton said in a speech on the Senate floor that, "If the administration believes that any -- any -- use of force against Iran is necessary, the President must come to Congress to seek that authority."

ABC News’ Jake Tapper asked Clinton, "Why not go to Congress?"

"Well, we would welcome congressional support," the Secretary said, "but I don't think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama was speaking of several years ago."

Gates said it is unknown just exactly how long operations in Libya would last. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for almost ten years, at war in Iraq for almost eight years and at war in Libya for nine days.

On the humanitarian side, the defense secretary said significant progress has been made.

President Obama has called for Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's departure, but regime change is not one of the goals of the United Nations-led military operations. Tapper asked about this seeming inconsistency.

"So why not have, as part of the mission, regime change, removing Gadhafi from power?" Tapper asked the Secretary of Defense.

"Well, first of all, I think you don't want ever to set a set of goals or a mission -- military mission where you can't be confident of accomplishing your objectives," he said. "And as we've seen in the past, regime change is a very complicated business. It sometimes takes a long time. Sometimes it can happen very fast, but it was never part of the military mission."

Clinton emphasized the humanitarian rationale for the U.S. military intervention in Libya, recalling instances from recent history when a lack of U.S. intervention had left hundreds of thousands dead.

Clinton said that the United Nations-backed military intervention in Libya "is a watershed moment in international decision making. We learned a lot in the 1990s. We saw what happened in Rwanda. It took a long time in the Balkans, in Kosovo to deal with a tyrant. But I think in what has happened since March 1st, and we're not even done with the month, demonstrates really remarkable leadership."

Clinton also played out a hypothetical of what non-intervention by the United States might have looked like.

"Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled and, as Bob [Gates] said, either with nowhere to go or overwhelming Egypt while it's in its own difficult transition. And we were sitting here, the cries would be, why did the United States not do anything?" she said

"Why -- how could you stand by when, you know, France and the United Kingdom and other Europeans and the Arab League and your Arab partners were saying you've got to do something," Clinton said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar262011

Condolences Pour In Following Geraldine Ferraro's Death

Brian Ach/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Following the death of former congresswoman and vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on Saturday, President Barack Obama along and several others expressed their condolences to Ferraro’s family.

President Obama said that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were saddened to learn about the death of Ferraro, and that Ferraro would be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all walks of life.

“Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, Member of Congress, or candidate for Vice President, Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all,” President Obama said in a statement.  “And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world.”

Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin offered her condolences to Ferraro’s family as well. Palin also described Ferraro as being someone who broke down barriers, and said that the world will miss Ferraro.

“When I had the honor of working alongside Geraldine on election night last year, we both discussed the role of women in politics and our excited expectation that someday that final glass ceiling would be shattered by the election of a woman president,” Palin said.

Former President George H.W. Bush said both he and his wife, Barbara, are saddened by Ferraro’s death. President Bush said although he and Ferraro were one-time political opponents, he was happy to have become friends with Ferraro over time.

Also issuing a statement was Ellen Malcolm, founder and chairperson of EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to political office, and which backed Ferraro in her run for office.

“Geraldine was so tough, and so much fun – and she fought her disease with the same toughness, charm and positive attitude that she showed as a political leader,” Malcolm said. “We’ll miss her, and continue to think about her with every new woman who runs.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar262011

Barbour: Obama's Policies Hurt Job Creation, Economic Growth

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Saturday called for a 2012 presidential campaign “focused on the policies of this administration which are bad for the economy, which are bad for job creation.”

Barbour, who traveled to the early caucus state for the second time in the past two weeks, used his remarks at the Conservative Principles Conference to focus largely on economic issues rather than social ones.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” Barbour said, “and the main thing is economic growth and job creation for our people.”

Barbour told Iowans that he would decide on a presidential bid before the end of April, and he tried to fire up the crowd of several hundred conservative activists here with some red-meat criticism of the Obama administration, which he said “is populated by people who have unlimited faith in limitless government.”

“This administration too often thinks we’re too stupid to take care of ourselves,” he said, “that we’re not up to it, that we need someone in Washington to tell us what kind of health insurance policy that we have, to tell us how to do everything that we do.”

Barbour argued that President Obama’s policies “hurt job creation, stymie economic growth." A former lobbyist who advocated on behalf of energy companies, he called White House’s energy policy, “the worst” part of its agenda.

The governor struck many of the same themes he used at events with local groups in Cedar Rapids and Tiffin, Iowa on Friday, saying that what the country needs now is “more American energy.”

“We need more oil, we need more gas, we need more coal, we need more nuclear,” he said.

Saying that the American people do not need “government elites in Washington” bossing them around, Barbour said “it is absolutely critical that we elect a new president of the United States” in 2012.

Barbour returned to Mississippi on Saturday, cancelling two days of planned events in New Hampshire next week, in order to deal with his state’s budget crisis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Democratic Rep. Engel to Obama: ‘Talk to Congress’

engel[dot]house[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s decision to use military force in Libya has been met with bipartisan blowback, with even some of the president’s allies criticizing him for not consulting with members of Congress more extensively.

On ABC’s “Top Line” Thursday, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel -- who has voiced support for the president’s actions -- said the president may be acting beyond his constitutional responsibilities if the U.S. continues to lead operations beyond “the first week or so.”

Asked if the president is acting within his authority, Engel, D-N.Y., said: “I think he has if we get out in a fairly quickly way. I think if this is something that's prolonged and we are around for weeks and months, then I think not. But everything that the president has indicated to me is that we expect to be in and out very quickly.”

Engel, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he’s concerned that a mission that started out well-defined might grow “murky” now that the initial objective of imposing a no-fly zone has been achieved.

“I think it sort of takes on a life of its own, unfortunately,” Engel added. “I think we're limited to the fact that, No. 1, we want to protect civilians in that was extensively the reason we went in, and I think that was a good reason for going in.”

“The other hand -- and the big question that is really kind of left out there as the game is played -- is what happens to Gadhafi? Is part of the mission regime change? To get rid of him? That's a little murky. That's a little unclear.”

“It seems to me that if we go in and we prevent him with a no-fly zone which I and others have called for, if we prevent him from murdering his own people do we just leave him kind of lying there so that when we pull out he can move back in? That really troubles me a bit.”

The president should better define the nation’s mission, Engel said. That means having to ask Congress for approval “at some point.”

“I think the president, as I said, as this goes down should speak to the American people. I know he already has. Also I think he needs to come to Congress and talk to Congress. I think that Congress could give him a stamp of approval for doing this. Congress obviously has powers that we take very seriously.”

“And as I said, if it's just something that's going to last a few weeks, then I think the president acted properly. But if it's something that we feel is going to be bogging us down for weeks and months then I think the president has to at that point come to Congress.”

Engel also said GOP criticism of the president has been largely disingenuous.

“Right now we should all rally around the president. It really is disheartening for me to see my Republican colleagues criticize the president and say he waited too long, or he shouldn't have gone, or he's out of the country. Whatever they can think of to criticize him, they do it. But when President Bush was leading the war in Iraq they kept saying that everyone should rally around the president in time of war.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Pelosi Confidant: Obama Acted Outside Authority

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Here’s an indication of how angry are congressional Democrats that President Obama put the U.S. in the mix in Libya without consulting them:

A top Congressional confidant of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat Rep. George Miller, suggested Thursday that President Obama acted outside his presidential authority by engaging in military action without consulting Congress.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence that they sufficiently consulted the Congress,” said Miller during an appearance on MSNBC. “The people in authority in the intelligence committee, I don’t get any sense that they believe that they were fully consulted on this matter. And that’s disturbing to the rest of the Congress that relies on those individuals as conduits of information and the acts on the ground, as they have been told by the administration. So that’s a matter of real concern to the members.

Wednesday, Pelosi released a statement with tepid support for the action and made a point of adding, “U.S. participation is strengthened by the president’s continued consultation with Congress.”

The MSNBC anchor asked Miller if he thinks the president acted with proper legal authority in taking military action.

“Well, I’m one of those people who believe that when you’re not defending the shores of the United State, you have an obligation to come to the Congress and ask for permission. So no, I don’t agree with that,” Miller said. He later said he thinks Obama would have gotten permission from Congress.

On Thursday, Miller said he agrees that the U.S. probably was needed to get the no-fly zone in place.

“I think he’s right, there’s some things that only we could do in the beginning, in a technical sense, to help the air cover and to repel Gadhafi troops. But he has got to keep his pledge that we will now move to a supporting role. That doesn’t mean we will not be involved… Its very difficult, as events unfold, to get the hell out of there."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Is the Libyan Conflict Constitutional?

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has chosen his words very carefully since authorizing military action in Libya. He announced the first strikes from Brazil Saturday during a five-day trip through Latin America and described a "limited military action."

Two days later in Chile, he talked about "very short time frames" and "days not weeks." And there was equal caution in El Salvador, where he steered clear of any mention of the word "war." The administration has used such language not only to calm political fears that the United States is on the brink of an open-ended military conflict, but to neutralize arguments from Congress and critics that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.

Obama officially informed Congress of the attacks two days after the conflict began, saying he had acted pursuant to his "constitutional authority" in a manner "consistent with the War Powers Resolution."

But critics almost immediately questioned whether Obama had the constitutional authority to launch the attack. The actions in Libya reignited a long-standing debate about the scope of executive power to use force without prior congressional approval. "The constitutional lines defining the president's authority to use military force without congressional authority have never been clearly defined and remain subject to substantial debate," Matthew Waxman, an expert on national-security law at Columbia Law School, said.

While the Constitution gives Congress the power to "declare war," it also outlines that the president is the commander in chief of the Army and Navy.

"This division of authority doesn't provide much guidance," Waxman said, "especially with respect to limited uses of force."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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