President Obama recently sat down with the editorial board of Iowa's largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, for what his campaign stipulated would be an off-the-record discussion:
The Des Moines Register’s publisher and I spoke with President Barack Obama this morning — but we can’t tell you what he said. Just four days before the Register’s presidential endorsement is released, Laura Hollingsworth and I received a phone call from the president. He was calling from Florida, on the heels of a morning campaign appearance and about 14 hours after his debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The conference call lasted nearly 30 minutes and was an incredibly informative exchange of questions, answers and an insightful glimpse into the president’s vision for a second term. He made a genuine and passionate case for our endorsement and for reelection. Just two weeks before Election Day, the discussion, I believe, would have been valuable to all voters, but especially those in Iowa and around the country who have yet to decide between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent. Unfortunately, what we discussed was off-the-record. It was a condition, we were told, set by the White House.
The Register's editors contrast this rigmarole from the most transparent administration evah with the access they were granted by Mitt Romney's campaign:
Romney appeared before our board Oct. 9. We literally met in a barn on a family farm owned by Jeff Koch, just west of Van Meter. We had a wide-ranging conversation in a little under an hour of access. He squeezed us in just before a campaign stop that spotlighted his agriculture policies. With the exception of one final question (“Why have you earned the Des Moines Register’s endorsement?”) his camp said the interview could not be videotaped, which has become our typical practice with politicians meeting our editorial board. But the audio was digitally recorded and posted on DesMoinesRegister.com.
That full audio is available here, by the way. With Iowa looking like a dead heat, an endorsement from a major newspaper could help tip the scales -- so after a protracted battle, Team Obama finally relented and agreed to allow the content of meeting to be released for the record. During that roundtable conversation, Obama predicted Latino voters would push him over the top in November because Republicans have alienated the growing demographic. The president was also asked about his decision to spend his substantial political capital, and exploit his large Congressional majorities, to aggressively push his partisan health care law, rather than in pursuit of other economic priorities. Obama's answer? "Absolutely" no regrets:
QUESTION: “Some say you had a super majority in your first two years and had this incredible opportunity, but because of what you were talking about, as you were running, you had to go to get Obamacare done. Do you have any regrets taking on some of the economic issues, some of the issues that we're talking about for your second term, that when you had the chance, so to speak, during your first -- do you have any regrets that you didn’t do that at that time?”
OBAMA: “Absolutely not, Laura.”
Obama projects unflinching confidence that he was entirely correct to put jobs, economic growth, immigration reform -- everything -- on the back burner in order to jam through Obamacare. He's proud of his law, which raises government healthcare spending, hikes family premiums, adds to the deficit, rations care through an unelected panel of bureaucrats, exacerbates our doctor shortage, and boots millions off of plans they hoped to keep. All of these outcomes explicitly violate promises the president made during the national healthcare debate. Meanwhile, the nation's economic outlook remains bleak. That's not in spite of Obamacare; it's because of Obamacare, which the CBO estimates will destroy 800,000 American jobs. The Romney campaign blasts the president's answer:
"In the face of a struggling economy, President Obama took his eye off the ball, and spent over a year focused on passing Obamacare – a massive government takeover of health care that cuts Medicare for today’s seniors, raises taxes on millions of middle-class families, and impedes job creation. But rather than learn from this mistake, the President would do the same in a second term, implementing even more job-destroying policies that will cost the nation over 700,000 jobs. It’s clear why Americans can’t afford four more years like the last four years. As President, Mitt Romney’s top priority will be fixing our nation’s economy by creating 12 million jobs, higher take-home pay for American workers, and a more prosperous future for all Americans."
Obama demonstrates zero introspection or appetite for self-correction. He has no new ideas for the future. He has to be dragged kicking and screaming into on-the-record interviews with major newspapers -- while cheerfully appearing on MTV, Leno, Letterman, The View, "Pimp with a Limp," and the Daily Show. By what measure has this man earned four more years to carry out more of the same?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography