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Entries in Robert Gibbs (18)

Sunday
Oct142012

Obama Will Be More ‘Aggressive’ in Second Debate, Axelrod Says

(NEW YORK) -- After his lackluster performance at the first presidential debate, President Obama is making some “adjustments” and will be more “aggressive” in his second face-off with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Sunday.

“Nobody’s a harsher critic than the president is of himself and he viewed the [debate] tape,” Axelrod said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think he’s going to make some adjustments on Tuesday.”

Axelrod would not detail any strategic changes that the president might be making, but said he’s “going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country.”

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said the president was “disappointed” in his performance in Denver.

“He didn’t meet his own expectations,” he said. “He knew when he walked off that stage, and he also knew as he’s watched the tape of that debate, that he’s got to be more energetic. I think you’ll see somebody who is very passionate about the choice that our country faces, and putting that choice in front of voters.”

Expect the president to continue to attack Romney for his changing positions. In the two weeks since the first debate, the president’s campaign has tried to cast the GOP nominee as an extreme conservative trying to reinvent himself as a moderate in the run-up to the election.

Gibbs described Romney’s performance at the first debate as “magical and theatrical” because “for 90 minutes he walked away from a campaign he’d been running for more than six years previous to that.”

“We saw Governor Romney, sort of, serially walk away from his own proposals and certainly the president is going to be willing to challenge him on it as we saw the vice president challenge Paul Ryan,” Axelrod said.

The president is spending the three days leading up to the debate hunkered down with his advisers in Williamsburg, Va., where he is practicing and studying at a luxury resort.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Romney Trip an 'Embarrassing Disaster,' Obama Aide Says

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(WARSAW, Poland) -- Mitt Romney shrugged off one final blow-up on Tuesday, as his three-country international tour ended with a top aide cursing out the press in Poland and a senior adviser to President Obama's campaign calling the Republican's turn on the world stage an "embarrassing disaster."

The crude outburst came on the final day of a tumultuous trip that has featured a controversy at every stop along the way, from Britain to Israel and Poland.

When reporters lobbed questions at Romney on Tuesday about the gaffes, campaign spokesman Rich Gorka told reporters that they could "kiss my a**" and, to one in particular, "Shove it."

The exchange occurred as Romney left the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw and Gorka told the reporters to "have some respect...This is a holy site for the Polish people."

Gorka has since apologized for the "inappropriate" choice of words.

Romney told Fox News on Tuesday that the controversies on the trip were the result of the press "trying to find anything else" to write about.

"I realize that there will be some in the fourth estate or whatever estate who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran," Romney said.

"They are instead trying to find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country," he said.

Obama's campaign has barely disguised its enjoyment of the trip's controversies.

"[Romney] both offended our closest allies and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region in the world," said Obama senior adviser Robert Gibbs, who described Romney's trip as an "embarrassing disaster."

On Monday, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod tweeted about Romney's trip, calling it "Romney's rolling ruckus."

Romney's problems began when he angered the mayor of London and other Brits by suggesting the city wasn't prepared to host the Olympic games.  He also prompted a Palestinian leader to complain Romney made a racist comment when he suggested national culture contributed to Israel having a stronger economy than Palestinians.

The Chinese government also chided Romney on Tuesday for stating while in Israel that the U.S. should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel's "capital" in Jerusalem.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Robert Gibbs: Romney ‘Embarrassed’ Himself at Olympics

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday said that Mitt Romney “embarrassed” himself in London when he questioned the readiness of the city to host the Olympics.

“Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney,” Gibbs said on ABC's This Week.  “Literally to go overseas, stand in the country of our strongest ally, and on Olympics that they’ve been preparing for years for, and question whether or not they’re ready does make you wonder whether or not he’s ready to be commander-in-chief…I’m happy David Cameron had the last word, because I thought it was embarrassing for our country.”

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, was verbally tweaked by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and also by Prime Minister David Cameron, after Romney questioned the readiness of London to host the Olympics just days before they got underway in the U.K., a strong ally of the United States.

“There are a few things that were disconcerting,” Romney said.  “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Madden, joining Gibbs during This Week, brushed off the remarks by the former Obama press secretary.

“I don’t think that a gaffe or a YouTube moment is really going to make or break this particular election.  I think it’s going to be about the direction of the country, how we rebuild the economy, how we continue to have a stronger national security posture around the globe,” Madden said.  “I think that the headlines that -- that come out of London on one day are not going to be as important as the overall view that people take when it comes to our economic prosperity here at home and then our safety and security around the globe.”

For his part, President Obama has come under attack from the GOP for comments he made earlier this month in which he said “if you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.”  Gibbs lashed out at the Romney campaign for what he said was ”selectively” editing the president’s words.

“We’re not going to let him play his tried-and-true role as prep school bully,” said Gibbs, who seemed to reference reporting by the Washington Post earlier this year that Romney bullied a gay student while in high school.

Madden countered that Obama bears responsibility for the negativity engulfing the presidential campaign.

“He promised to challenge the status quo.  And instead, he’s been very much a conventional politician over the last three-and-a-half years,” Madden said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

Obama Campaign: Santorum Could Be GOP Nominee

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama campaign’s top adviser admitted on Sunday that a general election faceoff between the president and Rick Santorum could be a real possibility.

Robert Gibbs told CNN anchor Candy Crowley Sunday morning that Santorum’s strong blue-collar appeal in some states could edge out Mitt Romney as frontrunner.

“I think because of the way delegates are apportioned, this is going to go on for weeks and weeks, and I think he’s got a legitimate chance to be the Republican nominee,” Gibbs said.

Romney and Santorum are currently neck and neck in battleground-state Michigan, where the primary is Tuesday.  Romney grew up in the state as the son of a Detroit auto executive, but the candidate’s lifelong wealth has turned into a target for critics who want to paint him as out of touch.

“[Santorum is] clearly somebody who has a very different economic background than Mitt Romney,” Gibbs said.  “He’s not worth $250 million and I assume his wife doesn’t have several Cadillacs.”

For most of this election cycle the Obama campaign’s strategy has been focused on an assumption of Romney clinching the Republican nomination.  But with Santorum’s rise in the polls, the campaign has admitted in recent weeks it is now directing a more concerted effort against the former Pennsylvania senator.

Gibbs also addressed another GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich, who criticized President Obama’s recent apology regarding the accidental burning of Korans at a U.S. base in Afghanistan.  The former White House press secretary told CNN the president was actively working to defuse tensions over the event.

“I’m not sure many people are looking to Newt Gingrich for foreign policy advice,” Gibbs said.  “If there’s a problem on the lunar colony, he’ll be among the first we call.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb192012

Senior Obama Advisor Criticizes Rick Santorum's Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Obama campaign strategist and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday morning, saying he was “well over the line” for questioning President Obama’s Christian faith.

“It’s wrong, it’s destructive and it makes it virtually impossible to solve the problems we face together as Americans,” Gibbs told ABC's Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview Sunday on This Week. “It’s just time to get rid of this mindset in our politics that if we disagree we have to question character and faith.”

Gibbs was responding to comments Santorum made Saturday that Obama is pushing a “phony theology” that is not based on the Bible and “imposing his secular values on the church.”

Although Santorum later insisted he was not suggesting Obama was not a Christian, Gibbs said his comments still went too far.

“I think that if you make comments like that, you make comments that are well over the line,” Gibbs said. “It’s time to have a conversation on political issues, not question each other’s faith.”

Faith-based issues have surged to the forefront of the political debate over the past few weeks, particularly in the GOP primary, as a fierce debate over contraception and gay marriage erupted onto the national scene.

Gibbs said Sunday that he did not know if legalizing same-sex marriage would be on the Democratic platform heading into the general election.

“I think we all look to and want to live in a world where, if you’re applying for a job or doing anything, you’re not judged on your sexual orientation,” Gibbs said. “And I think living in a society where that doesn’t happen is a society we all want to live.”

The Obama campaign adviser said the “nastiness” and “divisiveness” taking place in the GOP primary are threatening the Republican Party’s standing with the American people.

“The GOP primary has, in many cases, been a race to the bottom,” Gibbs said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Gibbs Shares ‘Regret’ for Explosive Michelle Obama Spat

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he regrets losing his cool during an explosive 2010 White House staff meeting, in which he reportedly shouted profanities about the first lady.

Gibbs downplayed the blowup, reported in a new book by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, saying in a written statement Tuesday, “in any high-pressure work environment there are occasional arguments and disagreements and that is certainly true of the White House. I regret speaking in anger and regret that this disagreement became so public.”

The incident followed reports that Michelle Obama had told French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that life in the White House was “hell.” Gibbs spent the morning of Sept. 16, 2010, crafting a response and denying the reports, which the first lady confirmed to be false.

The next morning, however, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett announced at a staff meeting that the first lady was “dissatisfied” with the way the White House had handled the situation, according to Kantor.

Gibbs reportedly exploded at Jarrett, cursing and using the “F” word to unleash his frustrations with the first lady.

“Like any colleagues, we’ve shared some laughs and we’ve shared some words over the years,” Jarrett said in a statement. “But we have always worked through any disagreements out of mutual respect and in our shared commitment now and in the future to President Obama.”

Going forward, Gibbs said such tense moments, “pale in comparison to the important issues facing our country and will not overshadow the vital work Valerie and I will do together as part of a team in 2012.”

Overall, the White House has branded Kantor’s The Obamas as overhyped. “Books like these generally over-sensationalize things,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

“These are high-pressure jobs. There’s always a lot at stake. And the commitment the people show to the president, to the first lady, and to the causes that brought them here is fierce. And sometimes that intensity leads people to raise their voices or have sharp exchanges.

“But the overall picture is one of remarkable collegiality and a genuine focus,” Carney claimed. “This is a remarkably harmonious place, given everything that’s at stake and the enormity of the issues that are discussed and debated here every day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan092012

New Book Alleges Feuds Between First Lady and President's Staff

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the election season begins to heat up, new revelations are surfacing about an alleged power struggle in the White House between some of President Obama's former staffers and first lady Michelle Obama.

In the upcoming book, The Obamas, Mrs. Obama is said to be frustrated with both her role as first lady and the advice her husband was receiving from former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and one-time press secretary Robert Gibbs.

The Obamas maintains that the first lady thought that she should be used more to promote the administration's healthcare reform agenda, which Emanuel felt was a bad idea.  In turn, Mrs. Obama apparently angered Emanuel by resisting his attempts to get her out on the campaign trail during the 2010 mid-term election.

Emanuel eventually left the White House in October 2010 to successfully run for mayor of Chicago.

The book, authored by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, also depicts a strained relationship between the first lady and former White House spokesman Gibbs, who left in early 2011.

In particular, Mrs. Obama was said to be upset with Gibbs' less-than strong denial of a story that she supposedly told the wife of French President Nikolas Sarkozy that life as first lady was "hell."

When Gibbs learned of Mrs. Obama's reaction, The Obamas claims he went off on Valerie Jarrett, a White House advisor close to the president and his wife, and actually cursed out the first lady.  Gibbs confirmed the veracity of the story to Kantor but admitted his anger was misdirected.

Another revelation makind headlines is the book claims the Obamas threw a lavish Halloween party at the White House in 2009 -- with no less than Alice and Wonderland's director and star Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to help decorate -- but kept the party secret so they wouldn't offend jobless Americans. The White House denies a cover-up existed.

Neither the president nor first lady agreed to be interviewed for the book, but Kantor says she interviewed 30 staffers for The Obamas.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Eric Shultz remarked, "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."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec052011

Obama Team on Romney: ‘Political Gymnast’ Who ‘Doesn’t Have a Core’

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s top campaign strategists on Sunday doubled down on Democrats’ personal, pre-primary attack on Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney as a man without character.

“When it comes to his public character, he doesn’t have a core,” David Axelrod told NBC's Meet the Press.  “It has nothing to do with his personal life.  I honor his personal life, I respect his personal life, but this is about how you behave in the public arena.”

Former White House press secretary turned campaign adviser Robert Gibbs called Romney a “political gymnast of the highest order.”

“He will say virtually anything to get elected to any office,” Gibbs said on CBS' Face the Nation.

“The one thing that is certain in this Republican primary, if you don’t like where Mitt Romney is today, just wait until tomorrow,” he said.  “It’s a little bit like the weather. ”

Both men, who helped orchestrate a similar line of attack against Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, rebuffed the suggestion that the negative and personal campaign is improper.

“He seems to think that every day is a new day, that he can simply change all of his positions depending on who his audience is or what the political circumstances.  And that is not what you want in the president of the United States,” Axelrod said.  “So is that an issue?  Yes, that’s an issue.”

Ironically, that's a precisely a charge that critics -- even among those who voted for him -- have levelled against President Obama, who as a candidate insisted he'd close Guantanimo Bay, and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but didn't follow through.

Romney defended himself against the “no core” charge in an interview with ABC News last month, insisting his record as a businessman and governor “demonstrates what I believe.”

“I understand that politics is politics,” he said at the time.  “People look for some edge they can get.  But -- but people know how I’ve lived my life and what I believe on the major issues of the day.  And frankly, I’m in this race, because of the failure of President Obama to turn around this economy. ”

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday, appearing after Axelrod, picked up on that theme, saying that if character is a 2012 campaign issue then Obama won’t pass the test.

“He made some promises in regard to the debt, which he didn’t fulfill.  He made some big promises in regard to the deficit.  He said he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term and what did he do?  He passed, or he put forward, the biggest structural deficit in the history of America,” Priebus said.

“What I think is going to be the bigger problem for this president, people in this country don’t think that this president is real anymore.  He’s not genuine anymore,” he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Obama Says Goodbye to Gibbs, With a Tie Returned 7 Years Late

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got quite the departing gift from President Obama Friday on his last day: his old tie back.

The president had borrowed a light blue tie from Gibbs, taking it right from his neck, shortly before taking the stage for his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the speech that is largely credited with catapulting a then-little known Senator from Illinois to the national scene.

“Ten minutes before we were about to go on stage, we were still having an argument about ties.  I had bought five, six ties.  And Michelle didn't like any of them,” Obama recalled, “And then somebody -- I don't remember who it was -- turned and said:  ‘You know what?  What about Gibbs's tie?  What about Gibbs's tie?  That might look good.'”

And that’s the tie that then-Senator Obama wore at the national convention.

“He has not said about -- anything about this tie all these years,” Obama said, “but I have to tell you that I know there's a simmering resentment that he never got it back. I wanted this on the record, on camera that I'm finally returning Robert's tie.”

The president then presented Gibbs with the light blue tie, framed, along with a picture of President Obama wearing it during his speech in 2004, and a picture of them together in the Oval Office. A personal message was scribbled at the bottom with words from the president to Gibbs.

“If he chooses to break the glass, he can,” Obama joked if Gibbs’ wanted to ever actually wear the now-encapsulated famous tie again.

“But this is going to be a reminder to me that Robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary, but he has been a great friend,” President Obama said, adding, “And you could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years.”  

Robert Gibbs first started working for Obama during his 2004 Senate campaign.

“I still didn't have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs,” the president joked.

Gibbs—whose last day at the podium is Friday after 250 formal briefings -- seemed emotional when speaking about his tenure, not only at the White House, but working with Obama over the years.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to do this each and every day, to serve and to take part in days like today that are so momentous,” Gibbs said Friday.

President Obama joked that, “Obviously, Gibbs' departure is not the biggest one today,” a veiled reference to the resignation today by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Vice President Biden’s spokesman, Jay Carney, has been chosen to replace Gibbs, starting on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb082011

Gibbs Exits Stage Left

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “I am going to miss almost all of you,” Robert Gibbs laughed as he turned and departed the lectern on his last week in the spotlight speaking for the President of the United States.  It is a job that carries global weight.

“People are watching it not just throughout this country but throughout this world,” Gibbs told one of his final briefings, which was dominated by questions about the freedom reforms being demanded in Egypt. “And your questions and my answers are being translated in languages that are spoken in continents far away. I think it demonstrates the importance of a strong freedom of the press, a sharing of information.”

The proud, red-haired son of Auburn, Alabama has been spokesman for the president through two wars, a historically severe recession, and a devastating Gulf oil spill for which he also took a significant lead on policy.

There have been colorful moments such as the August day in 2010 when Gibbs lost an Olympic bet to the Canadian prime minister’s spokesman and Gibbs arrived in the briefing room wearing an enormous Canadian hockey jersey. The sight produced whoops and laughter from the reporters, and applause when he tugged it off to reveal a Team USA jersey underneath.

Gibbs could get prickly about politics, suggesting in his office one day that “the professional left” should stop criticizing the President for not accomplishing all his ambitious goals with enough speed.

“I watch a lot of cable TV,” he argued at his briefing the next day, “and you don’t have to watch long to get frustrated by some of what’s said.” He survived, with humor. “There is no truth to the rumor I have installed an inflatable exit to my office.”

But Gibbs did not survive the West Wing reshuffling after the disastrous midterm elections.  There was no policy job higher up the senior staff food chain and so he decided to walk away from the press briefing room microphone. But not from the public discourse.  Robert Gibbs will show up next as a pundit in his new career as a Democratic consultant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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