Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • Obama ad hits Romney on Massachusetts debt

    Keeping President Barack Obama's promise to hammer Mitt Romney's record on the economy through to November, the embattled incumbent's re-election campaign unleashed a new 30-second television ad entitled "Number One" that implies the Republican's record in Massachusetts was a pile of Number Two.

    The Romney campaign hit back immediately, with spokeswoman Andrea Saul charging that Team Obama was unleashing "another distortion" of the former governor's record because it has "nothing positive to say" about the president's time in office.

    The commercial will air in key battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Obama vowed recently to keep up attacks on Romney's central campaign claim: That as a wildly successful businessman, he is the better candidate to revive the ailing economy and create jobs while draining the country's ocean of red ink. The Obama campaign fired a similar broadside last week.

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  • Commerce Secretary Bryson takes medical leave after car crashes

    Commerce Secretary John Bryson, facing felony hit-and-run charges stemming from two car crashes in Southern California over the weekend, is taking a medical leave of absence from his post "as he undergoes tests and evaluations," the White House announced late Monday.

    "The President's thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time. Secretary Bryson assured the White House that the Commerce Department staff will not miss a beat in their work helping America's businesses compete," President Barack Obama's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said in a statement.

    Hours earlier, Obama said in an interview broadcast that he hoped Bryson was "doing alright" after the top trade official was hospitalized for what an aide described as a "seizure" in connection to the incident.

    "My hope is that he's doing alright. We're still trying to find out, it sounds like it was health-related in some way," Obama told KTIV television of Sioux Falls, Iowa. "But we're going to make sure, obviously, that he gets the best care and, you know,  we'll be able to make a determination from there."

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  • Obama says he hopes Commerce Secretary Bryson ‘doing alright’

    President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Monday that he hopes Commerce Secretary John Bryson is "doing alright" after the top trade official drew felony hit-and-run charges in California and was hospitalized for what an aide described as a "seizure" in connection to the incident.

    "My hope is that he's doing alright. We're still trying to find out, it sounds like it was health-related in some way," Obama told KTIV television of Sioux Falls, Iowa. "But we're going to make sure, obviously, that he gets the best care and, you know,  we'll be able to make a determination from there."

    Obama said he had not spoken to Bryson and "just found out about this today," two days after the incident.

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  • Obama: Too busy to help Wisconsin Democrats in recall election

    President Barack Obama explained in a radio interview Monday why he didn't do more to help Wisconsin Democrats in their battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker: He was too busy.

    "The truth of the matter is that, as president of the United States, I've got a lot of responsibilities," he told WBAY of Green Bay, Wisconsin. WBAY was one of eight TV stations given an exclusive interview with the president — six from battleground states Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin and two from California and South Carolina.

    Obama said he was "supportive" of Walker's Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, whom Walker thumped in last week's vote. "Obviously, I would have loved to see a different result," Obama told WBAY.

    And the president said he would be working to ensure a different result in November.

    "We're going to be fighting very hard in Wisconsin just like we have in the past," said Obama, who carried the state by 14 points in 2008 but saw Barrett lose there by seven points.

    Asked whether the recall vote would have a ripple effect beyond Wisconsin's border, the president replied: "I don't think so. I think probably you've got specific circumstances in Wisconsin."

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  • Obama campaign launches first ad targeting black voters

    President Barack Obama's reelection campaign is launching its first ad specifically aimed at black voters, a national radio spot entitled "We've Got Your Back," a campaign aide confirmed to Yahoo News. The Grio first reported the news.

    "Four years ago, we made history. Now it's time to move forward and finish what we started together. We have to show the president we have his back," the bass-voiced narrator says over a drum track.

    Obama crushed Senator John McCain among black voters in 2008 and is sure to trounce Mitt Romney in 2012 in that constituency.  But Democrats are leaving little to chance in an election defined by the weak economy, including stubbornly high jobless numbers, and need black voters to turn out in large numbers.

    The Grio describes itself as "the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets."

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  • Obama ‘concerned’ about Commerce Secretary Bryson’s health, hit-and-run incidents

    Bryson (Jeff Chiu/AP)

    President Barack Obama is "concerned" about weekend car crashes that left Commerce Secretary John Bryson facing felony hit-and-run charges, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday, telling reporters that unspecified "health-related issues" played a role in the incidents.

    "We're obviously concerned about the incident, concerned about Secretary Bryson's health-related issues that played a role in this incident, and we're still gathering information about it," Carney said at his daily briefing.

    The spokesman rebuffed requests for more details about Bryson's condition, at one point saying: "I'm certainly not a doctor. I certainly was not a presiding doctor on this case." A spokeswoman for Bryson, Jennifer Friedman, said earlier in the day that the secretary had had a "seizure," although she left unclear whether the secretary had suffered the seizure before, during or after the accidents.

    Carney revealed that the White House only learned of Bryson's Saturday afternoon crashes on Sunday, and he said that Obama only became aware of the incidents on Monday morning. The spokesman said Bryson had been driving alone, without his security detail, which accounted for "some of the difficulty in getting details" regarding the unusual events.

    Bryson faces felony hit-and-run charges in Southern California after allegedly causing two separate car accidents in the space of five minutes late Saturday afternoon. Bryson was at the wheel of his Lexus when he rear ended a Buick that was stopped at a railroad crossing in San Gabriel, according to the San Gabriel Police Department. He spoke with the Buick's male occupants, then drove away, "hitting the same car again as he left," said a police statement. The men tailed Bryson and called police. They also witnessed the secretary hit a second car.

    Obama has not spoken to Bryson, who talked Monday morning with White House chief of staff Jack Lew, Carney said.

    The spokesman repeatedly ducked questions regarding whether Bryson could continue to serve as commerce secretary.

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  • Obama campaign dings Romney over Wisconsin statement, says he would cut firefighter and police jobs

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign released a new online video Monday criticizing Mitt Romney for his contention that the "message of Wisconsin" is that Americans can do with fewer teachers, police and firefighters.

    The roughly 90-second attack debuts at a time when Obama is still taking heavy fire from Republicans for saying on Friday that the private sector of the economy was "doing fine" compared to cash-strapped state and local governments that have been laying off educators and emergency responders.

    "Mitt Romney's economic plan? He wants to cut jobs for firefighters, police, and teachers," the Obama campaign says in the video.

    It shows Romney assailing Obama's remarks on the economy. "He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers—did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did! It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people!"

    The video then shows Massachusetts Democrats charging that Romney, as the state's governor, shortchanged state and local governments. And it features news headlines warning that the cuts drove teachers out of education and "weakened homeland security."

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told CBS television's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that he agreed with Romney that government spending was not the answer to the current crisis. But Walker said his interpretation of the failed effort to recall him was "slightly different."

    "I know in my state our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That's not what I think of when I think of big government," Walker said.

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  • Commerce Secretary Bryson hospitalized for ‘seizure,’ says spokeswoman

    Bryson (Jeff Chiu/AP)

    U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who was cited for felony hit-and-run in California over the weekend, was hospitalized for a seizure but has been released and is back in Washington, a spokeswoman said Monday.

    "Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure," said Commerce Department Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Friedman in a statement.

    "He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing. Secretary Bryson has no public events scheduled for today," Friedman said.

    A Commerce Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bryson "was on personal time with no security detail. He was driving his own vehicle. He was given medication to treat the seizure." It was not immediately clear what the nature of the seizure was, nor whether the seizure caused the incident or resulted from it.

    David Axelrod, senior strategist with President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, told "CBS This Morning" on Monday that the incident was "concerning," but he offered no new details. "This news broke overnight, so I don't really have anything to contribute to that. Obviously it's concerning," said Axelrod.

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  • Obama clarifies: ‘The economy’s not doing fine’

    On defense over the defining issue of his reelection fight, President Barack Obama clarified Friday that "the economy is not doing fine" and accused Republicans of playing "political games" by turning his own earlier words against him.

    Obama had triggered the onslaught a few hours beforehand by telling reporters that "the private sector is doing fine" and that "where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy" is in cash-strapped states and cities that are cutting jobs for teachers, firefighters, police and other workers.

    Republicans, including Mitt Romney, pounced on the remark, saying it showed the president was out of touch.

    So, in a brief photo opportunity, Obama revisited the issue.

    "It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had the press conference," said the president, who had called reporters together to press Congress to pass his stalled jobs program.

    "That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger," he said.

    "The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater. And that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference," Obama said. But he also insisted that "we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector."

    And the president renewed his criticisms of Republicans, underlining their rejection of his jobs plan.

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  • Giants Coach Coughlin knocks Congress as team visits White House

    If President Barack Obama plans to run against Congress this year, he might be able to enlist Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who poked fun at squabbling lawmakers as his Super Bowl champion team visited the White House on Friday.

    Coughlin paid homage to his players, saying they set aside "pettiness" and came together as a team when it counted.

    "Offense, defense, and special teams doing their job, each group having different objectives and motives but playing in harmony for each other for the good of everyone — wouldn't it be nice if Congress operated the same way?" the coach said on the South Lawn of the White House, to laughter and cheers from the crowd.

    Obama didn't completely skate. Coughlin wrapped up his remarks by noting: "We both have a goal to get back here next year. We have a lot of work to do."

    The coach and the president paid tribute to wounded warriors and America's armed forces, with Coughlin hailing them as "the real heroes."

    And Obama suggested he might be able to learn something about dealing with Congress from the team's final pre-Super Bowl session.

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