George Stephanopoulos Grills Axelrod From the Left: How Will Obama Fight Arizona Law?
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Friday repeatedly pressed White House advisor David Axelrod on just how the President plans on fighting Arizona's new immigration law. Yet, he failed to ask any questions on what Barack Obama will do to end the flow of illegals into America.
Hitting Axelrod from the left, Stephanopoulos noted that the President called the bill "misguided" and then complained, "But, what more does he think that government should do to block the effects of this misguided law? Does he believe the federal government should join in the lawsuit against it?"
The former Democratic operative turned journalist wouldn't abandon the subject and highlighted another liberal goal: "There have been some calls for boycotts of Arizona, including not having the All Star game there next year. Does the President agree with that?" It total, Stephanopoulos asked four questions on how Obama would oppose the new law. He asked zero on the issue of actually securing the border.
The ABC journalist did offer one tough query. He quoted the AP on the subject of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: "Will this be Obama's Katrina? Should the federal and state governments have done more and earlier?"
However, this was the lone exception. The rest of the interview was made up of softball questions. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising. Stephanopoulos is an ex-White House aide for a Democratic President.
Axelrod is a current top aide for a Democratic White House. Both do a good job of spinning for Democrats.
A transcript of the April 30 segment, which aired at 7:10am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: For more on this, we have White House senior adviser, David Axelrod. Welcome.
DAVID AXELROD: George, good to be here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard the Admiral say that the federal response has been immediate and sustained. But, questions are already being raised: Here's this morning's Associated Press: "Will this be Obama's Katrina? Should the federal and state governments have done more and earlier?"
DAVID AXELROD: Well, this is always the case in Washington that whenever something like this happens, the political speculation sets in. But the truth of the matter is, that we had the Coast Guard on the scene almost immediately, after this accident. The Deputy Secretary of the Interior was on the ground the next day. And we've been coordinating closely with the local authorities and with the responsible party, BP, down there to deal with this, from the very beginning. I'm not concerned about that. What I'm concerned about it that we do every, single thing we can, to remediate this problem, to stop the flow. And that's what's going on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the broader policy implications? Several of the President's allies, including Senator Nelson of Florida, have said that right now, that the President's call to expand oil drilling should just be suspended until this investigation is complete. Do you agree with that?
AXELROD: Well, let's understand what the President has said. All he has said is that he's not going to continue the moratorium on drilling. But he hasn't- no additional drilling has been authorized. And none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here. So-
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the President agrees with Senator Nelson?
AXELROD: What I'm saying is that no domestic drilling in new areas is going to go forward until there is an adequate review of what's happened here. And of what is being proposed elsewhere.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Let's turn to another subject that's been in the headlines this week: Immigration. In the wake of that Arizona law- The President has called it misguided. But what more does he think that government should do to block the effects of this misguided law? Does he believe the federal government should join in the lawsuit against it?
AXELROD: Well, look: There's two aspects of it, George. First is, the Department of Justice is reviewing that matter now. And we'll see what they conclude. There are some very disquieting aspects of this. But it's also a symptom of something larger. And that's the absence of a coherent, national policy. And so, what the President is saying is we also have to deal with that. And as you know, some members of Congress came forward with a proposal yesterday. It comports with a bipartisan plan or a blueprint that was released earlier. And the President thinks it's a promising approach.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And should be moved on right now?
AXELROD: Well, obviously, this will require bipartisan support. This is not something you can move on a partisan basis through Congress. And the President has been working for months to encourage a bipartisan coalition. He's going to continue to do so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, does he think this something that he thinks can happen this year? Because, the President seemed to question that.
AXELROD: I think that's a function of whether that coalition comes together. Certainly, the process should be in motion this year. If we can get it done this year- we should get it done this year. But we can't get it done alone, George. And this is a problem we ought to attack together. There ought to be accountability of the system. Accountability at the border. Accountability of the employers who subvert our system by hiring undocumented workers. And accountability for those people who are in this country illegally.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There have been some calls for boycotts of Arizona, including not having the All Star game there next year. Does the President agree with that?
AXELROD: Well, look, I'm not going to get into that here. But what this is is a manifestation of frustration, about a lack of action. It's misguided. It's- it could give rise to some terrible abuses. And that's a great concern to us. But the bigger thing is, let's address the problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, we only have a few second here's. But, we saw a big political move yesterday. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, moving to the senate race now as an independent. You see him hugging President Obama there. What do you make of that?
AXELROD: I think it's interesting. Crist was, three years ago, sort of a golden boy of the Republican Party. Vice presidential possibility. They recruited him for this Senate race. And now, he's been run out of the party. And it really speaks about the way the party's moving to the right. I mean, we have a big tent. They have a lean-to now. And he didn't fit under it.