David Axelrod on White House response to Libya attack
Obama campaign senior strategist on 'Fox News Sunday'
- Duration 14:19
- Date Oct 14, 2012
Obama campaign senior strategist on 'Fox News Sunday'
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Hello again from Fox News and Washington.
With two presidential debates in the next day day is in the -- getting much tighter we may be reaching the decisive moment in the long race for the White House.
We have questions for both sides today starting woods David Axelrod senior strategist for the Obama campaign.
Who joins us from Williamsburg Virginia where the president is getting ready for Tuesday's debate -- David welcome back to FOX News Sunday.
Thanks Chris good to -- this.
Let's start with the growing controversy.
Over the killing of those four Americans in Libya I hear is what Vice President Biden had to say about that.
In Thursday's today.
They wanted more security there.
Well we weren't told -- -- do what want more security do we did not know they want a more security yeah.
Just a day before -- State Department officials testified under both and they weren't repeated requests for more security.
Don't were rejected.
What is the vice president talking about.
-- -- the vice president was talking about what the White House knew.
There are -- all over the world and installations all over the world in these requests go into the security professionals at the State Department and there's no doubt that.
Some of these matters went into the security department at the state.
Security agency at the State Department but it didn't come to the White House and that's what the white the vice president was responding to.
We're now getting into and a definition of what the word we means when the vice president says we.
He's not talking about the Obama administration that was the question wasn't about what you know it's that there were requests for more security by does not talking about.
The Obama administration is not talking about the State Department is just talking about himself -- -- president.
No I think I think Chris again what he was talking about was what he he the president knew because these matters were being handled.
At the State Department but listen.
Here's the fundamental thing.
Nobody there's nobody on this planet.
Who is more concerned and and more interest in getting to the bottom of this and the president of the United States.
He feels personal responsibility.
For every represented if he sends around the world he knew Chris Stevens.
He admired Chris Stephens.
So look we want to get to the bottom of it and the first order of business is to bring to justice those.
Who who committed this heinous act.
And secondly find out what what went wrong and what adjustments need to be made to further secure our diplomat -- around the world.
Well let me ask you directly does the president take personal responsibility.
For the fact that repeated.
Request for more security were made and were -- -- And that that may have contributed to the death of those four Americans -- he take personal responsibility for the.
Chris at the top at the top line level the president of the United States is responsible for everything that happens.
Under his on his watch these were judgments that were made by the security.
Folks -- the State Department and of course we're gonna review that hole.
Process and see how those decisions are made why those decisions were made and how we how -- just in the future to make sure.
That we're giving our diplomats the maximum protection we -- the reality is that many of these folks serve in dangerous places in the world and you can't you can't a 100% guarantee anything but we want to get as close to a 100% as we can.
And that's why these investigations are moving forward.
I want to ask you about this question of personal secure personal responsibility by the president.
Because in the debate the vice president also blamed the intelligence community for the false reports that came out immediately after about the idea that this was a spontaneous.
Programs out demonstration that ran -- in fact a top State Department officials -- this week he was asked about that and this is what he sat.
That is a question that you would have to ask others that was not the idea -- spontaneous demonstration that was not our conclusion.
Question what all this finger pointing going on at the State Department going on at the head towards the intelligence community.
Whatever happened to the principal the buck stops with the president.
Well as I said the president is responsible for everything that happens.
On his watch three I mean it isn't the it -- us or anyone else is suggesting that that's what the intelligence was at the time intelligence community itself and director clapper.
Has said -- and in fact Chris.
You -- people from the State Department testifying under oath.
That on -- day for example when secretary right when ambassador rice appeared on your.
Program and other programs anyone.
Would have said the same thing that she said because that was the intelligence we were receiving.
And it's not a matter of blaming that's just the fact sometimes intelligence.
Has to catch up with the reality on the ground this was one of those cases.
Well that and -- that it doesn't quite square when the facts are because Charlayne -- who was a top State Department official -- and that's Warren hearing that she was in real time communication.
Real time communication.
Wins the people on the ground in Ben -- So there was a difference of opinion between what the intelligence community design and what the State Department was saying.
The State Department official as we said so that was never our conclusion that there was a spontaneous from -- Which raises -- put this question.
How soon after the attack.
Did the president meet with this is National Security Council would people from state -- people from that it.
-- are the Director of National Intelligence -- all of the various people to try to sort out.
What happened and -- -- Look we are sorting out what happened there understand that the president that they have to the today after the attack.
Call it and act of terror.
And and charged everyone with the responsibility.
To get to the bottom of what happened why and and been as the first order of business to make sure we bring to justice the terrorists who -- responsible.
For this act so the president has reacted as you'd want the president.
Two reacted to this but just getting back to your point on the State Department just a second Chris.
You you talk about the State Department spokesman you have -- you -- representatives of the State Department.
Testifying under oath.
This week before congress and they said what I said to you which is that.
Anyone based on the intelligence that there were.
That they had at the time would have said what what the administration said what ambassador rice said.
The day after the attack.
It -- the reason I I asked this is because you say well -- the president made a spending yes the president made a statement.
And anyone off to a fund right desert to a campaign stop -- Nevada question before he went to the fund raiser in about a did -- meet with his National Security Council to try to sort out these shifting story is because state says they never -- It was a spontaneous demonstration.
And Intel dead you're quite right.
Did eat -- with a National Security Council before -- went to campaigning in Nevada.
Chris I assure you that the president was in contact with.
All those who had.
Who had information responsibility.
In the national security chain about this incident again.
Let me stress.
There -- -- -- anyone on this planet who feels a greater sense of responsibility for our diplomats for our service people who takes this more personally than the president of the United States and he is determined.
To get to the bottom of what happened to bring these killers to justice these terrorists to justice and to make sure that whatever adjustments we have to make we make.
Well you you talk about personal responsibility and the presidents care but let's look at what deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter had to say this week.
About the attack and Libya that killed the four Americans.
The entire reason.
That's this is become the dean you know political topic it is -- because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Do you really believe David that the concern over Libya.
Is just politics it's been ginned up by the Romney campaign.
Look I think there are two separate issues obviously there's a serious issue here we've just been discussing it for several.
Minutes and it's it's it's an essential matter that we get to the bottom of what happened.
That we bring the -- terrorists to justice.
Well this president is totally committed to that there's a separate issue of how governor Romney has has handled this I refer you back to the famous 47%.
In the spring -- governor -- told him in private told his supporters that he was.
Waiting for a crisis waiting for an incident to jump in on on national security and he did he jumped in right away that day of these attacks with -- information.
In a way that was denounced by both Republicans and Democrats and there's no doubt.
That he's working hard to exploit.
This issue and I would point to the fact that this morning in Bloomberg News you Chris Stephen's dad.
Said that he regretted that.
-- people were trying to exploit.
This issue and I think we ought to follow the lead of the ambassador's family and allow this investigation.
To run and get to the bottom of it and make the adjustments are necessary by the way.
Wait wait wait and -- hey and that's it right right you -- that's -- and I do -- this is the first US ambassador that has been killed since 1979.
Susan Rice came on this show.
And five others and gave the American people destroyed it turned out not to be true and you're saying that we shouldn't discuss -- that we should wait and for the investigation be completed.
No no -- -- just -- that's obviously.
That's Alex Chris come down that's obviously not what I'm saying.
I'd just say I just that we wouldn't want my minute -- -- -- -- -- the latest threat on -- happy and I'm happy.
I'm happy to discuss it with you and I do think that it's worthy.
Of discussion I think that's different.
Then the manner in which governor Romney has conducted himself and it's not just me who.
Attacked him for the way he handled this he was roundly criticized by people from right to left the Republican establishment in the democratic -- Thought about what is seven when you have -- -- created -- majority of the -- our audience was so I guess I Sanford to resign now except the Obama camp time.
I'm job just tell you that from the beginning of this issue before any facts were known.
He was pretty -- trying to exploit it and look that's politics I understand that Chris I understand the whole deal -- in the last three weeks of the campaign.
And of course governor Romney's gonna be out there -- talking about this -- but the president's concern the president's concern is to get to the bottom of it to bring the terrorists to justice and to make whatever adjustments are necessary based on investigation.
To ensure that in the future that if there -- if there were lapses that those lapses are addressed.
All right let's turn to a couple of others others who -- much longer and Libya than I expected -- campaign now concedes that the president had a quote bad night.
In Denver during the first debate what's he gonna do differently on -- -- Well.
I think the president then nobody's harsher critic than the president is of himself and he viewed the tape I think he's gonna make.
Some adjustments on Tuesday and you know I'm not -- to get into.
Detail about strategic.
Changes that he might make but I just encourage you to watch and show up I think it'll be an interesting debate do you want to be more aggressive in taking on the Romney record.
I think he's going to be aggressive in making the case for for his view of where we should go as a country and a country that's built.
Around a growing thriving middle class not this top down theory that governor Romney has put the other thing is gonna certainly do is I mean we sought governor runways at the governor around -- sort of Syria we walk away.
From his own proposals and and certainly the president's going to be willing to.
To challenge -- -- on it as we saw the vice president challenge.
Some Paul Ryan you know -- I was on the show a couple of weeks ago.
Could not answer how governor Ronnie -- papers five trillion dollar tax plan.
And he had all that time after showed a prepare for the debate and in ninety minutes he still couldn't explain as a way to give governor Romney another chance.
On Tuesday to try and square this impossible circle.
Throughout will talk without -- by the Ed Gillespie and an excitement finally I want to ask you about the latest numbers.
In the real clear politics average of recent polls Romney now leads the president and national surveys by a little over one point.
And in key swing states Obama's latest now just one point 7% in Ohio.
Less than half a point in Virginia and Romney now leads in Florida by three points.
Romney made real gains since the first debate and where is this race now.
I think I think he made a little bit of progress after the first debate I think he picked up some of these Republican leaning independents who had lost heart.
Watching his convention watching that 47% tape he got some of those people back I think you made all that progress in the first couple of days and in fact Chris.
This morning there's a poll out that shows the president leading in Ohio -- 5% leading in Arizona.
The data that I see suggests that whatever progress governor Romney made he made in the first couple of days after the debate in the race has been.
Stable and where we're we're even or ahead in every one of these.
Battleground states and end of the most tangible marker.
Is early voting all over the country there's a poll out this morning that -- the president was winning 59% of those early voters we have reason to believe.
That we're doing very well of those early voters so I mean I think there's a lot of hype and as I've said throughout even when the polls.
Positive for us that these public polls are all over the place.
And the reality of the race on the ground is that where ahead it's a little bit narrower than it was before the last debate.
But we feel good about where we are where we've got a great ground game going and and then we're gonna have a great debate on Tuesday and the following week -- governor -- have a great debate too he's a great salesman that's what he did as a professional and he's very very good at it.
At the end of the day people are gonna judge on our plans on our records and our vision for the future and we're looking forward to discussing that on Tuesday.
David thank you thanks for taking time out of your debate trap and we will all be watching Jose -- Looking forward to effect.