Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Michelle Obama joins President Obama to wrap up Iowa bus tour

    President Barack Obama addresses a fired-up crowd in Waterloo, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    First lady Michelle Obama—vastly more popular than her husband—joins President Barack Obama in Iowa on Wednesday as he wraps up a three-day campaign bus tour of the Hawkeye State. The Obamas will also sit down for a joint interview with People magazine.

    The Obamas will hold rallies in Dubuque and Davenport before leaving this potentially pivotal battleground state and heading back to Washington.

    Several polls in late May found that 2 out of 3 Americans say they have a positive opinion of Michelle Obama. That's about 10 points higher than her husband's favorability ratings—and 20 points higher than his job approval numbers.

    The Iowa bus tour has highlighted some of the president's other political assets and tactics: It opened with his announcement of a major aid package for farmers and ranchers hit hard by the worst drought in a half-century, showcasing the power of incumbency.

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  • Obama camp dismisses ‘unhinged’ Romney attack

    President Barack Obama campaigns in Oskaloosa, Iowa (Scott Olson/Getty Images)President Barack Obama's campaign dismissed Mitt Romney's "unhinged" criticisms of the incumbent's re-election tactics as the rhetorical war between the Democrat and his Republican challenger escalated yet again.

    "Gov. Romney's comments tonight seemed unhinged, and particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a written statement.

    LaBolt was responding to a withering assault from Romney at a campaign stop in Ohio, where the former Massachusetts governor accused the president of "diversions and distractions" and "defaming others" in order to win re-election this November.

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  • Republicans bite back after Obama knocks Romney’s dog-on-car trip

    President Barack Obama campaigns in Oskaloosa, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    Welcome to the dog-eat-dog world of Campaign 2012. Mitt Romney's campaign hit back hard at President Barack Obama on Tuesday for needling his rival about a long-ago incident in which Romney put the family dog in a carrier strapped to the roof of his car as they headed out on vacation. Republicans highlighted that Obama, as a child in Indonesia, ate dog meat.

    "After sanctimoniously complaining about making a 'big election about small things,' President Obama continues to embarrass himself and diminish his office with his un-presidential behavior," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.

    "This election is about creating jobs, turning around our economy and helping the middle class. The President's policies have failed on all counts and he will do anything to distract from his abysmal record," Williams said.

    Obama in 2008 had complained about politicians who turn to scare tactics and "make a big election about small things" when they don't have a record to run on.

    Not to be outdone, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus took to Twitter to denounce Obama's "bone mot."

    "Obama campaign about small things - accusing Romney of being a felon & murderer. Next thing you know, they'll accuse Romney of eating a dog," he tweeted. That was a reference to past Democratic attacks on Romney, including a top Obama campaign aide's charge that he may have broken the law in his personal financial dealings and a pro-Obama super PAC's misleading ad linking the Republican to the cancer death of a laid-off steelworker's wife.

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  • Obama jabs at Romney over dog-on-car-roof incident

    For Seamus? President Barack Obama unleashed a sharp attack on Mitt Romney over his opposition to a wind-power tax credit popular in Iowa—and linked to it a long-ago incident in which the Republican candidate put his family dog, Seamus, in a carrier strapped to the roof of his car.

    "We're at a moment right now when homegrown energy, like wind energy, is creating new jobs all across Iowa and all across the country," Obama told an estimated 852 people in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

    The president underlined that Romney does not want to renew the tax credit when it expires at the end of the year, and painted the Republican candidate as an enemy of alternative energy.

    "He's said that new sources of energy like wind are 'imaginary.' His running mate calls them a 'fad.' During a speech a few months ago, Gov. Romney even explained his energy policy this way: 'You can't drive a car with a windmill on it,'" he said.

    "I don't know if he's actually tried that—I know he's had other things on his car. But if

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  • Obama praises Curiosity team, says ‘Mohawk Guy’ inspired him

    Curiosity captures the view on Mars on August 8 ( NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama placed a congratulatory telephone call to the NASA team behind the Mars "Curiosity" rover, joking he might go for a Mohawk to emulate flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, and quipping that he needed to be told "right away" if the probe finds any little green men.

    "If, in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away," he said in the call. "I've got a lot of other things on my plate, but I suspect that that will go to the top of the list. Even if they're just microbes, it will be pretty exciting."

    [Slideshow: Curiosity beams Mars photos back to Earth]

    Obama offered a personal shout-out to "special Mohawk Guy" (yes, the White House transcript capitalized "Guy").

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  • Obama: Butter Cow, yes, Bumper Cars, no

    A child listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak during a campaign stop at Bayliss Park August 13, 2012 in Council Bluffs, Iowa(Julie Denesha/Getty)President Barack Obama's Iowa state fair to-do list: Check out Butter Cow, see if this chocolate moose thing is real, but stay away from the fried Twinkies and the bumper cars.

    Obama launched a three-day bus tour through this heartland state--the place that helped propel his unlikely bid for the White House in 2008--with a stop in Council Bluffs. And he'll end it at Iowa's famous state fair.

    "Michelle has told me I cannot have a fried Twinkie. But I will be checking out Butter Cow, and I understand this year there's a chocolate moose," he said, adding that he would "take a look at that if I can." (Butter Cow is exactly what it sounds like. A cow. Made of butter. And the fair is famous for deep frying pretty much anything and everything.)

    "The last time I went to the state fair, Secret Service let me do the bumper cars. But they said this year…I wasn't president then so I could do that, but not this time," he said.

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  • Obama: Ryan ‘standing in the way’ of help for farmers, ranchers

    Cornstalks suffering from drought conditions are seen on a farm in Mechanicsville, Md. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    Kicking off a three-day bus tour of Iowa, President Barack Obama accused newly minted Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan of "standing in the way" of legislation meant to help farmers and ranchers struggling in the face of the worst drought in a half-century. Obama also unveiled a $170 million package to help the battered agricultural sector.

    "I know things are tough right now," Obama told supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, underlining that the farm bill was "the best way" to help those hurt by the lack of rainfall.

    "Unfortunately, right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law," the president said to an audience of 4,300 people. "I am told Gov. Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa these next few days. And he's one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way."

    "So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. We've got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa," Obama said.

    Ryan, whom Romney formally anointed his running mate on Saturday, was in Iowa on a solo campaign swing. A spokesman rejected Obama's accusation, underlining that the Wisconsin lawmaker voted earlier this month for a Republican-crafted short-term drought relief bill.

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  • Obama: Ryan is Congressional Republicans’ ‘ideological leader’

    In his first public remarks about Paul Ryan's pick to be the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, President Barack Obama called the lawmaker "a decent man" but painted him as a champion of "top down" economic policies that favor the rich.

    "Just yesterday morning, my opponent chose his running mate, the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress, Mr. Paul Ryan," Obama said at the second of five fundraising events in his hometown of Chicago. "I want to congratulate Congressman Ryan. I know him, I welcome him to the race."

    "Congressman Ryan is a decent man. He is a family man. He's an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision. But it's a vision that I fundamentally disagree with," the president said, arguing that Romney and Ryan were standard-bearers for "top-down economics."

    Obama's main political vulnerability ahead of the election remains the economy, still sputtering and weighed down by high unemployment of 8.3 percent three and a half years after he took office. The president has argued he will stand up for the middle class, while Romney will help the rich at the expense of everyone else.

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  • Biden to Ryan: Come on in, the campaign’s fine

    Vice President Joe Biden--who once called Paul Ryan "fine" and "handsome" before knocking his economic policies--telephoned Mitt Romney's newly minted running mate on Saturday to "welcome him to the race," the Obama campaign said in a statement.

    "Vice President Biden reached out to Congressman Ryan earlier today to congratulate him on his selection and welcome him to the race," it said. "The Vice President urged Congressman Ryan to enjoy the day with his family, and said he looked forward to engaging him on the clear choice voters face this November."

  • Obama response to Ryan pick: Harder, Faster, More

    President Barack Obama had Paul Ryan on his radar years before Mitt Romney selected the representative from Wisconsin as his running mate. Ryan, the president said, favors "thinly veiled social Darwinism." Further, Obama charged that Ryan dishonestly claims the mantle of deficit hawk when he actually votes for budget-busters as long as they come from his party.

    And Team Obama's response to the House Budget Committee chairman's elevation to potential VP made clear that the Democrat's campaign won't overhaul so much as go into overdrive. Aides argue that Ryan amplifies rather than challenges their core message with just 88 days until the election.

    The early attacks are telling: Obama's website repeatedly refers to Ryan's "extreme budget plan" as favoring the rich over the middle class (the president's core argument against Romney). The first line of its biographical sketch reads "Paul Ryan is a career Washington D.C. insider." (Obama has been running in large part against inside-the-Beltway political stalemate, casting the blame on Republicans.)

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