Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Obama campaign mocks Romney use of Bill Clinton

    Bill Clinton speaks to the ReSource 2012 conference on July 13, 2012, in Oxford, England. (Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images for ReSource 2012)

    President Barack Obama's re-election spokeswoman mocked the Mitt Romney campaign for using Bill Clinton in its latest ad, joking that the Republican standard-bearer must have run out of supporters in his own party.

    "If that's the best validator they can find—someone who thinks President Obama is a far better choice on the economy and on other issues—perhaps his bench is a little shorter than we thought it was," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One.

    "This isn't the first time that they have attempted to use President Clinton," she underlined. "It's interesting because President Clinton is not only a strong supporter of President Obama—he'll be speaking about him at the convention—but he has said time and time again that President Obama is the right person to lead the country forward, to help our economy continue to move forward."

    Romney's campaign invoked Clinton in an ad attacking Obama's approach to welfare reform, an overhaul crafted by the former two-term Democratic president and his Republican foes in Congress in the 1990s over the objections of many liberal Democrats. But Clinton released a statement late Tuesday siding firmly with Obama and against the commercial.

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  • Obama campaign: Don’t blame us for ad blaming Romney for cancer death

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign distanced itself on Wednesday from a harsh—and misleading—ad that effectively ties Mitt Romney's business decisions to a woman's cancer death. But neither the campaign nor the White House passed judgment on the vicious commercial, which emerged from a super PAC backing Obama.

    "We have nothing, no involvement, with any ads that are done by Priorities USA. We don't have any knowledge of the story of the family," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One.

    "As you know, campaign finance rules in that regard are in place for a reason," she said, referring to laws forbidding outside groups from coordinating with the presidential campaigns.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney, who ducked questions about the ad on Tuesday but invited reporters to "ask me tomorrow," declined to discuss it.

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  • Hollywood’s Elizabeth Banks: I’m for Obama. Period.

    With President Barack Obama set to emphasize women's health care on a swing through Colorado, Hollywood star Elizabeth Banks warns in a new campaign ad that Mitt Romney's opposition to Planned Parenthood would take away cancer screenings. Banks also describes her reliance on Planned Parenthood in unusually personal terms, describing how she got birth control to ease discomfort associated with her "heavy flow" cycle.

    Banks, looking to help Obama tilt the odds ever in his favor, praises Planned Parenthood for providing "essential services all over this country." She says that 95 percent of the care the organization provides is noncontroversial and sharply criticizes Romney, who has said he would cut off its federal funding.

    "For that little 5 percent that Mitt Romney decides he doesn't agree with, he's going to take away cancer screenings. What is he doing?" she says. "He's going to take away people's access to health care close by. We're talking about working-class ladies who need health care. That's it. That's Planned Parenthood."

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  • White House, Obama camp, blast Romney’s ‘blatantly dishonest’ welfare charge

    (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)The White House denounced Mitt Romney's "blatantly dishonest" charge that President Barack Obama is looking to "gut welfare reform" enacted under Bill Clinton by erasing a requirement that recipients actively seek work.

    "This advertisement is categorically false, and it is blatantly dishonest," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    A new Romney ad seizes on a mid-July memo from the Department of Health and Human Services that signals the administration is open to waiving certain work requirements. "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job," the ad says. "They just send you your welfare check." (The ad opens with a photo of Clinton, who worked with a Republican Congress to impose the work requirement, over the objections of liberal allies.)

    But the memo says "HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF" and requires states seeking waivers to submit to a "federally-approved evaluation plan."

    "This administration's policy will strengthen the program by giving states the opportunity to employ more effective ways to help people get off welfare and into a job," Carney said. 

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  • White House on Syria: We learned from Iraq

    Majed Aldin Ghazal of the Syria Olympic athletics team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games (Lars Baron/Getty Images)The White House urged Syrian rebels on Tuesday to leave key governmental institutions "intact' when they topple President Bashar al-Assad. Press secretary Jay Carney said the plea was partly rooted in what is widely considered one of the worst errors of the Iraq War.

    Amid high-level defections from Assad's regime and opposition forces seemingly gaining ground, "it is certainly the case that contingency planning is the responsible thing to do," Carney told reporters at his daily briefing. The spokesman declined to discuss "specifics" like possible aid.

    "We have to think about what we can do to support a Syrian-led democratic transition that protects the rights of all Syrians," he said. "We have to figure out how to support the return of security and public safety and how to get the Syrian economy up and going.

    "I can say that in this transition we think it's essential to make sure that the state's institutions stay intact and that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare," he said.

    After the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer banned members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from holding influential government posts and disbanded Iraq's military—a pair of decisions widely blamed for fueling what became a bloody insurgency.

    Asked whether that example had shaped the message to Syria's rebels, Carney replied: "That precedent is useful to look at."

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  • Obama never said Romney wants Petraeus for VP: Carney

    David Petraeus, seen here with Republican strategist Karl Rove, attends the unveiling of former President George W. Bush’s official portrait at the White House in May. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    With the verbal version of an eye-roll, the White House scoffed Tuesday at the Drudge Report's claim that President Barack Obama thinks Mitt Romney may be trying to snag CIA chief David Petraeus as his vice presidential pick. The report, sourced only to an anonymous "insider," said Obama had told a top fundraiser he thought Romney aimed to make Petraeus his running mate.

    "Be mindful of your sources," press secretary Jay Carney said as a reporter started to ask him about the report. "I can say with absolute confidence that such an assertion has never been uttered by the president."

    "And, again, be mindful of your sources," said Carney.

    Asked whether the former general, the architect of America's "counterinsurgency" strategy in Iraq, would make a good running mate, the spokesman replied: "Gen. Petraeus was an excellent general and is currently serving very well at the Central Intelligence Agency."

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  • Pro-Obama ad ties Romney to woman’s death from cancer

    A pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, unleashed what may be the most vicious and personal attack ad of the 2012 election cycle to date, effectively blaming Mitt Romney for the death of a laid-off steelworker's wife from cancer. The Romney campaign hit back hard, calling the charge "dishonest" and "contemptible." And the facts of the case undermine the shocking link (See update below).

    The stark, minute-long commercial, entitled "Understands," features Joe Soptic, who lost his job and his health benefits after Romney's Bain Capital closed the GST Steel plant in Kansas City, Kan.—a move that has been the subject of pro-Obama ads before.

    "I don't think Mitt Romney understands what he's done to people's lives by closing the plant," says Soptic, echoing recurring Democratic attacks on the former Massachusetts governor's tenure at Bain.

    But here is the rest of the script:

    "When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care, and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that, my wife became ill. I don't know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn't say anything because she knew that we couldn't afford the insurance. And then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia, and that's when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days. I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."

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  • Obama campaign: Romney fundraising edge means ‘we’re in trouble’

    President Barack Obama speaks at a July 24 campaign fundraiser in Portland, Oregon (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign warned supporters in an email plea for cash on Monday that Mitt Romney's vast fundraising edge means "we're in trouble" with scarcely three months to go before Election Day.

    "We got beat three months in a row," the campaign said in the unsigned message. "If we don't step it up, we're in trouble."

    The appeal came hours after the two sides released their July fundraising totals, revealing that Romney and the Republican Party scooped up $101 million against the $75 million hauled in by Obama and the Democrats.

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  • Obama warns ‘Romney Hood’ will take from poor, give to rich

    President Barack Obama told cheering supporters at a fundraiser in Connecticut on Monday that Mitt Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for a tax cut benefiting the very rich: "It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood." His remarks drew laughter and applause.

    Obama pointed to a recent study of Romney's approach by the independent Tax Policy Center that speculated that, to pay for his proposed tax cut on the wealthiest Americans, the former Massachusetts governor would have to end popular measures like the mortgage and child deductions and the Earned Income Tax Credit—which chiefly benefit middle-class and poor Americans.

    "He'd ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year," Obama said.

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  • White House: Harry Reid ‘speaks for himself’ on Romney’s taxes

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to the media after a weekly policy meeting at the Capitol in March 2012 (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

    The White House declined to criticize Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney may not have paid taxes at all for a decade.

    "I would simply say that you all probably know Sen. Reid well and, you know, he speaks for himself," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    Romney has denied the allegation, and top Republicans have branded Reid a liar —but some Democrats have said the former Massachusetts governor could banish any doubts by releasing his income tax returns for that period, something he has steadfastly refused to do.

    "I think it is a fair point to make that this is an issue that was not originated during the general election campaign, did not start with the president's campaign or with Sen. Reid. It started in the Republican primary when Gov. Romney's opponents brought up this issue," Carney said.

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