Entries in Stephanie Cutter (6)


‘This Week’ Roundtable Debates Obama Drone Program

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., pushed for more congressional oversight of the Obama administration’s drone program, saying a legal architecture needs to be put in place on the use of drone strikes against potential terrorist targets overseas.

“I’ve looked into this, I haven’t found one public hearing on drones,” Ellison said Sunday on the This Week roundtable. “Now, we had the Brennan hearings, but, you know, Congress has an oversight responsibility here… The president has invited the conversation. He said we need a legal architecture around this thing, so why don’t we go do it?”

Ellison also questioned the legal rationale cited in a leaked Justice Department white paper that applied a wide definition to what constituted an “imminent” terrorist threat. “This is the broadest use of the term ‘imminent’ I’ve ever heard,” Ellison said.

President Obama’s pick for CIA Director John Brennan faced tough questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing last week on the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes, which have greatly increased during Obama’s time in office.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., called the hearings “very helpful,” but agreed with Ellison that there needs to be more discussion of the drone program. Cole questioned whether some of the strikes are hurting intelligence efforts by killing instead of capturing terrorist targets.

“I really do think we are losing a lot of opportunities out there to actually extract people and – and get information, and human intelligence is really much more important than taking out individual targets,” Cole said.

Republican strategist and ABC News political analyst and contributor Nicolle Wallace said former President George W. Bush would have been judged much more harshly for using the same measures.

“It’s slightly hilarious that people have all this patience for a legal architecture to be crafted after the fact,” Wallace said. “If this had been President George W. Bush’s administration revealing that this many drone attacks are going on, there would be impeachment hearings underway. So the hypocrisy sort of has Republicans steaming.”

But Wallace added that many Republicans have been pleased that President Obama has continued many of the counter-terrorism efforts of the previous administration.

“I think the actual policy and the fact that President Obama has continued almost the entire basket [and], in the case of drone killings, [has] greatly accelerated their use, has Republicans feeling pretty satisfied that the counter-terrorism policies put in place by the Bush administration, which Dick Cheney was the architect of many of them, have been continued by this president,” Wallace said.

Former Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter countered that the Obama administration has tried to be transparent on the drone program, while ending the use of torture to gather intelligence.

“Mr. Brennan, the president, the administration has said that they want transparency, accountability, and a process to ensure that… everybody’s aware of what we’re doing going forward,” Cutter said.

While the debate over the drone strike program continues in Washington, ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, who just returned from the Middle East, noted how poorly received the strikes are in countries impacted by them.

“I’ve been in all the places they’re used, in Yemen, in Pakistan, and people there do not like them,” Raddatz said. “John Brennan is able to say, ‘look, it’s very effective, and it’s certainly been effective taking out core leadership, but when you talk to people on the street, you wonder what the long-term strategy is.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich: Richard Mourdock’s Comments Reflect Position of ‘Virtually Every Catholic’ in the U.S.

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sunday morning on “This Week,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended the controversial comments made by Richard Mourdock, in which he suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape were “intended” by God. Gingrich said that the Indiana Republican Senate’s candidate’s words reflected the position of “virtually every Catholic” in the United States.

“My response is, if you listen to what Mourdock actually said, he said what virtually every Catholic and every fundamentalist in the country believes, life begins at conception,” Gingrich said. “Now, this seems to be fixated by the Democrats, but the radical on abortion is Obama, who as a state senator voted three times in favor of allowing doctors to kill babies in the eighth and ninth month who were born, having survived late-term abortion.”

Gingrich further defended Mourdock and asked why some people, including President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, could not “get over” the comments.

“He also immediately issued a clarification saying he was referring to the act of conception, and he condemned rape.  Romney has condemned — I mean, one part of this is nonsense.  Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape.  OK, so why can’t people like Stephanie Cutter get over it?  We all condemn rape.”

Gingrich appeared on “This Week” following Cutter, who criticized Mitt Romney for not asking Mourdock to pull an ad featuring the GOP presidential nominee.

“Just this past week we saw it, when he wouldn’t take down his ad for Richard Mourdock, who had — you know, it’s a now famous comment that it’s God’s will if a woman gets pregnant through rape.  He’s not willing to stand up when it matters,” Cutter said.

I also asked Gingrich about the upcoming election and he predicted Romney would win the popular vote with 53 percent. He also pushed back against the idea suggested by some that an Obama victory in the Electoral College, but a popular vote loss would cause some in the GOP to characterize the win as illegitimate.

“I mean, we’re a nation of law.  We’re going to obey the law…I think he’s actually going to end up winning around 53-47,” Gingrich said. “And I think it’s very unlikely he can win a significant popular victory vote and not carry the Electoral College.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Team Readjusts On ‘Are You Better Off?’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- After either saying “no” or refusing to give a straight yes or no answer to Sunday show anchors when asked if Americans are better off today than they were four years ago, officials from Team Obama Monday morning changed their answers and enthusiastically offered a capital-Y “Yes.”

One day ago, Democrats had a different answer to that question.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Sunday on CBS was asked if Americans are better off than they were four years ago.  ”No, but that’s not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars — charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit card.”

O’Malley today on CNN: “We are clearly better off as a country because we’re now creating jobs rather than losing them.”

Clearly Sunday’s answers from O’Malley and other top Democrats were deemed unacceptable.

“Yes or no, are Americans better off today than they were four years ago?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Sunday’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Plouffe, continuing to evade a direct yes or no, said that Republicans “did a good job of reciting all the statistics everyone’s familiar with. I think everyone understands we were this close to a great depression. Because of the leadership of this president, we staved that off. We’re beginning to recover. We have a lot more work to do.”

Trying to erase and change the question, Plouffe said, “the question is, we’re going to be far worse off if Mitt Romney is elected president and he gets a chance to enact the same economic policies that created the mess in the first place.”

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace and Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod had a similar back and forth. “David, is the average American better off than four years ago?” Wallace asked. Axelrod responded: “I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009. And it’s gonna take some time to work through it.”

But on CNN’s “Early Start” Monday morning, anchor John Berman elicited a different response from Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse.

“Brad you’ve been shaking your head, as you’ve been sitting off camera, because we’ve been playing all the sound from the last 24 hours of Democrats being asked ‘are you better off today than you were four years ago?’” Berman noted. “So, I’ll give you the chance to ask the question: Are we better off than we were four years ago?”

“Absolutely,” Woodhouse said.

On the Today Show, NBC’s Natalie Morales asked Obama campaign deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: “Let me begin by starting with that central question on a lot of people’s minds, and that is are we better off today than we were four years ago when President Obama was elected?”

“Absolutely,” Cutter said. “Let me just walk you through what life was like four years ago.”

Cutter noted that “in the six months before the president was elected, we lost 3.5 million jobs,” and added that wages had been declining, the auto industry was on the brink of failure, and so on. “Let’s take a look where we are today… we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs” — note the omission of public sector jobs, which have a net loss of more than 600,000 — “the auto industry today is the number one auto industry in the world.”

Acknowledging the weak recovery, to a degree, Cutter said “it might not be as fast as people hoped. The president agrees with that. He knows we need to do more.”

Though the unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent, is currently higher than it was when President Obama took office (7.8 percent), it wasn’t that Plouffe (and others) didn’t have a case to make yesterday.

“We’ve clearly improved, George, from the depths of the recession,” Plouffe said. “We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. We’re now gaining them.”

Plouffe added that “the unemployment rate was around 10, it’s come down” — an assertion that leaves out that the 10 percent unemployment rate arrived in October 2009.

President Obama and his team have continually struggled with how to convey the news that the economy is growing, while not seeming clueless about the economic pain Americans are feeling. Sunday’s responses seem to now be viewed by the campaign as an over-correction.

Clearly senior staff from the White House and Obama campaign realized that saying Americans were worse off than they were four years ago — or at least not insisting that Americans are better off — was untenable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama ‘Won’t Be Apologizing’ for Bain Attacks on Romney

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republicans continue to call on President Obama and his campaign to give an apology for questioning Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital. They won’t be getting one.

“No, we won’t be apologizing,” the president said in an interview aired on Sunday. “Sometimes these games are played during political campaigns. Understand what the issues are here: Mr. Romney claims he’s Mr. Fix-it for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience.”

Speaking to NBC’s Richmond, Va., affiliate station, WAVY-TV, Obama invoked a past White House occupant in an argument he has used for days on the campaign trail.

“Harry Truman said ‘the buck stops with me,’ and I think understandably people are going to be interested in, are you in fact responsible for this company you say is one of your primary calling cards for your wanting to be President,” he said.

On Thursday an Obama campaign manager upped the ante on Romney’s final days at Bain Capital by suggesting the Republican candidate had either lied to the public or misrepresented “his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony,” by saying he had left the company in 1999. Romney gave five network interviews to defend himself, stating the Obama campaign had gone “out of control.”

That spokeswoman doubled down on the attack on Sunday by stating there was no point in “arguing the semantics” of whether he was officially active at the firm during the time.

“If you’re signing an SEC document with your own signature that you’re the president, C.E.O., chairman of the board and 100 percent owner of a company, in what world are you living in that you’re not in charge?” Stephanie Cutter said on CBS.

On ABC’s “This Week,” former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel put it another way:

“As president of the United States you can’t have a sign on your desk that says, ‘Gone fishing,’” the Chicago mayor said.

Emanuel and Cutter had come to represent the Democratic side in the row at the heart of the issue: Whether Romney could be held responsible for layoffs and outsourcing at Bain properties after he supposedly left to manage the U.S. Olympic Committee.

On the other side of the table: Romney adviser Kevin Madden.

“The reason there is a document in 2002 that had his signature is, during that transition from 1999 to 2002 where there was transfer of ownership to the new partners of Bain, that there was a duty to sign those documents,” Madden said. “Even a bipartisan commission indicated Governor Romney left Bain in 1999.”

It is a fact that Romney remained at the company until at least 2002, according to SEC filings obtained by the Boston Globe. But some independent fact checking organizations have criticized the reporting of Romney’s role at the time, stating there was no evidence to say he took part in any decision-making processes.

Republicans have seized on those articles, demanding an apology from the Obama campaign. Madden repeated the call, but Cutter maintained it was out of the question.

“Instead of whining about what the Obama campaign is saying, just put the facts out there and let people decide, rather than trying to hide them,” she said.

Cutter and Emanuel both referenced Romney’s refusal to release any tax returns dating before 2010, which would shed light onto the nature of overseas holdings the candidate possessed.

“You’ve learned in just one year about the Caymans, about the Bahamas, about Luxembourg, and about Switzerland, all where his tax and different accounts are,” Emanuel said. “His tax — his tax filing looks more like the Olympic Village than it does like a middle-class family.”

Madden said Romney had “gone above and beyond” financial disclosure laws required of candidates, releasing “hundreds and hundreds of pages of financial disclosures with the FEC.”

On CNN, another Romney surrogate, Ed Gillepsie, said the candidate’s departure for the Olympics was originally planned as a “leave of absence.”

“He ended up not going back at all and retired retroactively to February of 1999 as a result,” Gillepsie said.

“Ed Gillepsie” and “#retroactively” reached top 10 positions on Twitter shortly after the statement was made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Aide Admits Bain Attacks on Romney Haven't Stuck

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A top Obama campaign strategist made a surprising admission Wednesday about Democrats’ efforts to undermine Mitt Romney’s economic chops: they haven’t worked.
“No one has a good understanding of what Mitt Romney’s economics are or what Mitt Romney’s business experience really was,” said deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on a conference call with reporters.
She was asked to explain why the former governor and private equity executive holds an edge over Obama in some public polling on who Americans believe would better improve the economy.
“In a rare moment of candor a few months ago, Mitt Romney admitted that his job was not about job creation, it was about wealth creation,” Cutter said. “So, what we have been doing today, and all week, is explaining that that ‘wealth creation’ came at a price.”
“I think that over time people will become aware of these things,” she added.
Democrats have spent months hammering Romney’s economic record as governor of Massachusetts, his lack of transparency with tax returns and his business dealings at Bain Capital -- through online and TV ads, social media campaigns, and local and network news interviews.  The problem, she said, is that a clear message has yet to break through.
The Obama campaign is amplifying their case about Romney this week, through a coordinated TV ad campaign, a tour by Vice President Joe Biden through Ohio, and other public events in key states featuring laid-off workers from former Bain-owned companies.
And aides appear to be trying to further simplify their message -- avoiding the nuances of the practices of private equity -- casting Romney as a ruthless wealth seeker, not a job creator.
“You can take it from me: Mitt Romney is no job creator.  He was a corporate raider.  He tried every way possible to create profits for himself and his buddies instead of trying to create jobs for American workers,” Cutter said.
She underscored later, “As the CEO of Bain, Romney’s first priority was creating wealth for himself and making return on his investment for his investors, not building companies that created jobs for hard-working Americans. As president Romney would do the same.”
And again, hammering the same point home: “As a corporate buyout specialist like Mitt Romney...was very successful at one thing: creating wealth for himself and his investors, getting a return for that investment. He wasn’t successful at ensuring that people get to keep their jobs.”
The question now is whether persuadable voters are listening, and agree.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Adviser Stephanie Cutter to Assume Campaign Role

(CHICAGO) -- Stephanie Cutter, one of President Obama’s top White House advisers, will be leaving her post before the end of the year to assume a new role as deputy campaign manager of Obama for America in Chicago, a campaign official told ABC News.

Cutter, a veteran communications manager who helped shape the administration’s 2009 strategy for health care reform, will work closely with campaign manager Jim Messina to oversee communications, messaging, policy and research through 2012.

The high-profile departure comes as Obama’s advisory team fills more top staff posts and expands state-by-state operations in anticipation of an accelerating campaign early next year.

During the 2008 campaign, Cutter served as chief of staff for Michelle Obama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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