Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • 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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  • Obama on health care: ‘The law I passed is here to stay’

    Obama in Maumee, Ohio (Susan Walsh/AP)

    MAUMEE, Ohio—Kicking off his first formal campaign bus tour of 2012, President Barack Obama told several hundred cheering supporters that he would work with Congress to tinker with his signature health care overhaul but stressed that "the law I passed is here to stay."

    Mitt Romney has vowed to roll back the Affordable Care Act on "Day One" if he wins in November, a promise that has fired up the Republican Party's conservative base.

    Obama, launching a two-day trek through politically pivotal Ohio and Pennsylvania, delivered a ringing defense of his most sweeping domestic policy achievement and said that he was open to improving the law—and working with lawmakers regardless of party to do so.

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  • Obama launches first 2012 campaign bus tour, announces trade action against China

    President Obama boards his bus during an October 2011 trip to push his American Jobs Act (Susan Walsh/AP)

    MAUMEE, Ohio—President Barack Obama kicks off his first bus tour of the 2012 campaign on Thursday with news meant to cheer struggling Rust Belt voters: His administration is taking on China over an allegedly unfair trade practice.

    Hours before the president was due in Ohio, the White House sent reporters a Toledo Blade report that the Obama administration would take aim at Chinese duties on some American-made cars and SUVs "including the Toledo, Ohio-made Jeep Wrangler." (Eerily excellent timing.)

    The World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint will accuse China—a frequent election-year villain blamed for lost American manufacturing jobs—of improperly imposing duties on about $3.3 billion of American exports, the Blade reported. A victory could see China rescind the duties.

    Beijing says the fees are a legitimate response to the American auto industry bailout championed by Obama, which China calls an unfair government subsidy.

    The WTO complaint could also give the president another opening to hit Mitt Romney, who famously opposed the bailout in stark terms. Ohio is home to a vast auto-parts manufacturing sector that benefited from the auto industry rescue.

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  • Obama on Andy Griffith: ‘A performer of extraordinary talent’

    Statues of television characters Andy Taylor and his son, Opie, stand outside the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, N.C. (Chuck Burton/AP)

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to the late Andy Griffith on Tuesday, hailing the television icon as "a performer of extraordinary talent" who "warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere."

    Griffith died at his home in Manteo, N.C., on Tuesday morning. He was 86.

    "Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Griffith this morning," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

    "A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy's family," Obama said.

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  • Pakistan reopens supply routes into Afghanistan after Clinton says ‘sorry’

    (Shakil Adil/AP)

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that Pakistan was reopening ground supply lines into neighboring Afghanistan after she apologized for the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO strike in November.

    "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Clinton told Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar by telephone. America's top diplomat said in a statement that she had also offered "our deepest regrets for the tragic incident" on Pakistani soil that led that country to shut the supply lines.

    [Related: Read Hillary Clinton's full statement]

    American and NATO officials had said that the closure of the routes had not hurt the alliance's war on the Taliban, but that they would be crucial to the plan to withdraw the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) 130,000 troops by the end of 2014. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress earlier this month that the need to rely on other supply lines was costing NATO an additional $100 million per month and suggested perhaps imposing limits on America's aid to its sometimes fitful ally.

    "Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives," Clinton said. "We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again."

    The stalemate over the supply lines was just one of many symptoms of fraying ties in the aftermath of the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his hideout in a garrison city in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities expressed anger that they had not been consulted. American officials charged that some Pakistani officials must have known that the al-Qaida mastermind was there. Relations have also suffered from escalating American drone strikes inside Pakistan. And American lawmakers had increasingly discussed the possibility of reducing—or tying strings to—military and economic aid from Washington.

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  • Americans still support Declaration of Independence: poll

    (Julio Cortez/AP)

    USA! USA! USA! The timing could hardly be better. On the eve of July Fourth, a strong majority of Americans—70 percent—still firmly support the Declaration of Independence, according to a public opinion survey by Rasmussen Reports.

    Here's how Rasmussen puts it:

    The Declaration of Independence, ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, asserts that "governments derive their only just powers from the consent of the governed." A new Rasmussen Reports national survey finds that 70% of American Adults agree with that statement, up from 66% last year and up from 56% in 2008. Just 13% now disagree with this assertion, but 17% are undecided.

    (Of course, a related poll in late June found that just 22 percent of Americans believe their government has the consent of the governed.)

    (Via the wonderfully overactive Twitter account of Dave Weigel)

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  • Obama defiantly attacks Romney on ‘outsourcing’

    President Barack Obama's re-election campaign on Tuesday redoubled its attack on Mitt Romney as someone who shipped jobs overseas, defying findings from independent fact-checking outlets that have branded the accusation largely baseless.

    In a new television ad, dubbed "Believe," Team Obama says that companies taken over by Romney's Bain Capital "were pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low wage-countries" and that the Republican standard-bearer himself "supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas."

    The commercial highlights Obama's rescue of the auto industry—which Romney opposed—and says the president would strive to bring companies back to American soil. "Outsourcing versus insourcing. It matters," the ad's narrator says.

    The message will run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the campaign. And Obama is sure to hit that note as he campaigns by bus through Ohio and Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday.

    The Romney campaign struck back quickly at what it called "untrue ads." "We are happy to put Gov. Romney's record of job creation in the private sector, and as governor, up against President Obama's any day," said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

    The new commercial came a day after the Obama campaign picked a very public fight with the independent group—and drew a sharp rebuke for its trouble.

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  • Obama mourns dead ‘heroes’ aboard downed fire-fighting plane

    A C-130 flying past Pike's Peak in Colorado. (Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/AP)

    President Barack Obama said he and all Americans send "deep condolences" to the families of those killed in the crash of a C-130 military cargo plane, which was helping to fight wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Obama hailed all of the airmen taking part in efforts to battle blazes ravaging Western states as "heroes."

    Six crew members were aboard the North Carolina Air National Guard aircraft when it went down Sunday night. A military official told the Associated Press that some survived.

    "I know Americans across the country share my concern for the well-being of the surviving members of the crew and my deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives," Obama said in a statement.

    "The full details are still under investigation, but the crew of this flight—along with their families and loved ones—are in our thoughts and prayers," the president said.

    Obama traveled to Colorado last week to view firsthand the efforts to battle the worst wildfires in the state's history.

    "The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans," he said in his Monday statement.

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