Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Ohio diner owner dies hours after Obama visit

    (Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal) Ann Harris, in a pink floral shirt, stands with multiple=

    Friday morning, President Barack Obama ate a breakfast of eggs, bacon and wheat toast at Josephine "Ann" Harris' restaurant in Akron, Ohio. She met the president, and embraced him. A few hours later, she was dead. The Akron Beacon Journal said Harris, 70, apparently succumbed to a heart attack.

    Obama, winging his way back to Washington aboard Air Force One, telephoned her daughter, Wilma Parsons, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

    "The president expressed his sorrow and his condolences at the very sad event. He was honored to meet her this morning and passed on his feelings that the whole family is in his thoughts and prayers today," Carney told reporters.

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  • In first election bus tour, defiant Obama touts his health care law

    President Barack Obama speaks at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Susan Walsh/AP)

    President Barack Obama promised cheering supporters in Ohio that he would "make no apologies" for his overhaul of health care and mocked rival Mitt Romney's apparent change of heart on his own approach in Massachusetts.

    "When you hear all these folks saying, 'Oh, no, no, this is a tax, this is a burden on middle-class families,' let me tell you, we know because the guy I'm running against tried this in Massachusetts and it's working just fine--even though now he denies it," Obama told about 300 supporters at Dobbins Elementary School in the village of Poland.

    The president brought up health care often on this week's two day bus tour--the first of this election cycle. On Friday, the president's reelection campaign promoted an interview with an NBC affiliate in Cincinnati in which he hit Romney for changing his tune on whether the individual mandate—the requirement that people have health insurance—is a penalty or a tax. Romney says it's a tax in Obamacare but a penalty in his own plan.

    "One of the things that you learn as president is that what you say matters and your principles matter," Obama scolded in the interview. "And sometimes, you've got to fight for things that you believe in and you can't just switch on a dime."

    The debate has flared because the Supreme Court upheld Obama's signature domestic policy achievement under Congress's taxing power. Republicans have seized on that to accuse the president of breaking a pledge not to raise taxes on middle-class families. The White House insists that the fine imposed is a penalty, not a tax.

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  • Obama campaign sounds the alarm over Romney’s $100 million haul

    President Barack Obama kisses 9-month-old Nathan Maxwell Johnson of Youngstown, Ohio, at Dobbins Elementary School in Poland, Ohio. (Scott R. Galvin/AP)

    President Barack Obama says he's not worried about Mitt Romney's prodigious fundraising. But his campaign sounded the alarm Friday about the Republican standard-bearer's eye-popping $100 million haul in June and warned Democrats to open their wallets—before it's too late.

    "If we don't take this seriously now, we risk finding ourselves at a point where there is too much ground to make up," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an email request for cash. Subject line: "URGENT."

    "Romney and the Republicans announced yesterday that they brought in more than $100 million in June. For context, that's about what we raised in April and May combined," Messina wrote.

    "We're still tallying our own numbers, but this means their gap is getting wider, and if it continues at this pace, it could cost us the election," he said, asking for immediate donations that he promised "can start reversing this trend in just a few hours."

    Messina name-checked the Koch brothers, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove—all boogeymen to liberals.

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  • Obama: ‘I’m skinny but I’m tough’

    President Barack Obama talks with patrons of Ann's Place in Akron, Ohio. (Susan Walsh/AP)

    Put it on a bumper sticker! President Barack Obama told a crowd of supporters in Poland, Ohio, not to worry about him in the face of what he predicts will be a massive onslaught of attack ads.

    "You've got these super PACs, millionaires, billionaires writing $10 million checks, just pouring, raining down on my head," he told hundreds of cheering people at Dobbins Elementary School.

    "That's all right," someone shouted.

    "It is all right, because I'm tough. I'm skinny but I'm tough," Obama said, drawing laughter and cheers from the crowd. "And the main reason it's going to be OK is because of you."

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  • Obama on jobs: ‘It’s still tough out there’

    President Barack Obama talks with Edward Ruscitti, right, during his tour of Summer Garden Food Manufacturing in Boardman, Ohio (Susan Walsh/AP)

    Responding to a grim jobs report, President Barack Obama assured struggling Americans on Thursday that he knows "it's still tough out there" but defended what he described as his "steady" work to help the fitful economy recover from the global meltdown of 2007-2008.

    "We knew from the start in 2008 that turning that around wasn't going to happen overnight. It didn't happen overnight, and so we weren't going to reverse it overnight. But we've been steady, we've worked hard," he told a crowd of about 300 people at Dobbins Elementary School in Poland, Ohio.

    Obama's remarks, delivered while he was hunting for votes on a two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, came after new government data showed the economy created a disappointing 80,000 jobs in June, the latest symptom of an ailing economy weighing down his hopes for reelection.

    "It's still tough out there. We learned this morning that our businesses created 84,000 new jobs last month. And that, overall, means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs," he said.

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  • White House on weak jobs report: Don’t ‘read too much’ into it

    President Barack Obama has breakfast in Ohio with workers from a Goodyear facility. (Susan Walsh/AP)

    The White House urged Americans unsettled by the latest weak jobs figures—just 80,000 added to the payrolls in June—not to "read too much" into any single monthly report. President Barack Obama, chasing votes on a bus tour in Ohio, was expected to address the latest sign of an anemic recovery that threatens his shot at re-election.

    "While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed," Alan Krueger, chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.

    Obama kicked off his day by sitting down to breakfast with three tire workers from a Goodyear facility in Akron, Ohio. His re-election campaign underlined that the plant had benefited from the president's decision two years ago to impose tariffs on Chinese tire imports. "The president's action on Chinese tires was supported by manufacturing workers and companies, but was labeled as 'decidedly bad for the nation and our workers' by Mitt Romney," the campaign said in a statement emailed to reporters. (Obama ordered two eggs, over medium, with bacon and wheat toast. The waitress offered him grits, and he accepted.)

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  • Obama declines offer to arm wrestle Ohio man for his vote

    President Barack Obama talks with patrons as he stops for a beer at Ziggy's Pub and Restaurant in Amherst, Ohio. (Susan Walsh/AP)

    President Barack Obama will shake your hand, kiss your babies, visit your diner, tour your school, headline your ice cream social, drop by your bar. If federal red tape has you snagged, he'll try to help slice through it. But he draws the line at arm wrestling you for your vote. (He also won't pretend to like your baseball team)

    Obama visited Ziggy's Pub and Restaurant in Amherst, Ohio, on Thursday, one of several stops left off his public schedule, and New York Times reporter Mark Landler caught the scene.

    The president got a round of applause and a barrage of camera flashes as he entered Ziggy's, a popular nighttime spot where the Wi-Fi code is "DRINKBEER." One of the large TV screens was showing a CNN report about Mitt Romney's amazing $100 million fundraising haul in June.

    Enter patron Jeff Hawks. Hawks pointed to one of the TVs on the wall and told Obama: "You're in a building that has Fox News on."

    Obama, whose White House has Fox News on nearly continuously, suggested that Hawks could ask to change the channel. "The customer is always right," the president said.

    "I'll arm wrestle you for your vote," Hawks told Obama. (Landler's report was mum on the relative sizes of the two men). The president demurred. "No," he said, "I'll play basketball for your vote." Annnnd...scene. (The president's busy campaign schedule pulled him away).

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  • Obama campaign: Romney fundraising news meant to ‘distract’ from personal finances

    President Barack Obama opens a bottle of water after his speech at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio, Thursday, July 5, 2012. Obama is on a two-day bus trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania. (David Richard/AP))

    President Barack Obama's reelection campaign charged late Thursday that Mitt Romney hoped to use word of his eye-popping $100-million June fundraising haul as, essentially, a staggeringly expensive and carefully orchestrated smokescreen. The remarkable total, if confirmed, was sure to fan the flames of fears, frequently and publicly expressed by team Obama, that Romney will out-raise him.

    But Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Romney's leaked total aimed to "distract" voters from a pair of news reports about the Republican's personal finances and renewed focus on his health care plan after the Supreme Court upheld "Obamacare."

    "Mitt Romney is trying to distract from a week when he took contradictory positions on the freeloader penalty in the Affordable Care Act and we learned more about his offshore finances in Switzerland, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands," LaBolt said in an email statement.

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  • Obama on marriage: ‘Do whatever she tells you’

    President Barack Obama eats lunch at the Kozy Corners diner in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Thursday, July 5, 2012. Obama is on a two-day bus trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania (Susan Walsh/AP)

    President Barack Obama, marriage counselor?

    The president stopped at the Kozy Corners diner in Oak Harbor, Ohio, on Thursday for what political campaigns dub an "OTR"—an "off the record" event that isn't on the formal schedule—and doled out a bit of marriage advice.

    "Just do whatever she tells you to," Obama told a man sitting with his wife at a table during a brief chat about what makes a good marriage. The president's words were collected by The New York Times reporter Mark Landler, the print "pool reporter."

    Obama settled in at a table with former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and dug into a burger, fries and a tall iced tea. "All right, I'm going to eat my burger," he said to the other diners, "and everybody just pretend like I'm not here." The pool report was mum on whether the president's fellow diners at the cash-only restaurant managed to tune out his presence, not to mention that of the media phalanx accompanying him.

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  • Obama on China: ‘We’re going to make sure that competition is fair’

    (Susan Walsh/AP)MAUMEE, Ohio—In an unabashedly populist appeal to voters in the electorally pivotal state of Ohio, President Barack Obama declared Thursday that his policies had brought America's auto industry "roaring back" and highlighted a new trade action against China.

    "As long as I'm president, that's what I'm going to be doing: waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities," he told several hundred cheering supporters in the sweltering heat of the midday son in Maumee.

    Obama, launching a two-day bus trek through Ohio and Pennsylvania, struck a combative tone, portraying Nov. 6 as a stark choice between his middle class-oriented agenda and that of Mitt Romney, whom he cast as caring chiefly about the wealthy. He defended his landmark health care overhaul and declared that the law was "here to stay" in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling that the measure is constitutional.

    And he warned voters that their choice

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