President Obama Weighs in on Romney Attack
By LISA HIRSCH
August 17, 2012
ET caught up with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the campaign trail in Dubuque, Iowa, where he commented on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney accusing him of conducting a "campaign of division and anger and hate."
ET's Nancy O'Dell asks the President what he thought of that characterization.
The president replies, "Well, Nancy, you've been on the campaign trail with me for a day and a half ... We're going around the country, talking about, ‘How do we put people back to work? How do we improve our schools? How do we make sure that we're producing American energy? How do we lower our debt in a responsible way?' And I don't think you or anybody who's been watching the campaign would say, yes, that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together."
"Now, Governor Romney I think has had very sharp critiques of me and my policies, and that's how it should be. That's the nature of democracy and I've got some sharp disagreements with him in terms of where he would take the country," the president continues.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of supporters in Virginia that the Romney campaign wanted to "to let the big banks once again write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street," adding, "They're gonna put y'all back in chains."
The Romney campaign denounced Biden's choice of words, but Biden later said he meant to use the term "unshackle" when referring to Wall Street, saying that it's been used in the past by Republicans in regard to the economy.
The president responds to the furor over Biden's remarks, telling Nancy, "You know, the truth is that what Joe Biden was talking about, again, is an example of a substantive argument, a substantive issue that the American people should be concerned about. His phrasing is a distraction from what is at stake."
The President explains, "We've got a situation where we just went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and part of the reason we went through that crisis was because there was a lot of reckless behavior on Wall Street. We put in reforms to make sure we don't have any more taxpayer funded bailouts. Governor Romney and his allies in Congress disagree with those reforms and think they should be rolled back and we should go back to the times when the system was incredibly vulnerable and middle class families ending up paying the tab, and I think understandably what Joe Biden said is we shouldn't want to go back to the status quo.
"You know the truth of the matter is, again, this is an example of what the American people hear and what the press corps want to focus on are two very different things, so if we're going to talk about substance, than we should focus on what Joe's comments meant and what they're intended to mean, and that is we shouldn't roll back Wall Street reforms that are making consumers and the economy a lot more secure."
"Financial reform is the big issue … but not the gaffe," Michelle chimes in.
The president also dismisses former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's suggestion on Fox News that the Obama campaign should replace Biden on the ticket with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"We don't spend a lot of time worrying about the chatter and the noise and this and that," the president says. "I'm making conversations with [people on the campaign trail] and, as you've seen, the country isn't as divided with gaffes or some stray remark as Washington is. Most folks know that's just sort of a WWF wrestling part of politics. It doesn't mean anything, just fills up a lot of airtime."
Tune in to ET tonight for more, and tune in tomorrow night to hear the Obamas talk about their romance and their oldest daughter Malia starting high school this fall.