RNC: This Week in Change III

Obama Continues His Trend of Adopting the Most Politically Expedient Position on Important Issues

WASHINGTON , July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by the Republican National Committee:

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080519/RNCLOGO )

WELFARE REFORM

Yesterday, Obama Released A New Campaign Ad That Shows His Shift On Welfare Reform:

Obama's New Ad Aligns Him With Welfare Reform, But Fails To Mention His Opposition To The 1996 Federal Welfare Reform Legislation. " Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul 'slashed the rolls by 80 percent.' Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction."( Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Shifts On Welfare Reform," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 7/1/08)

Obama's "Transformation From Opponent To Champion Of Welfare Reform" Is His Latest Shift In Position For The General Election." Obama's transformation from opponent to champion of welfare reform is the latest in a series of moves to the center. Since capturing the Democratic nomination, Obama has altered his stances on Social Security taxes, meeting with rogue leaders without preconditions, and the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.'s , sweeping gun ban."( Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Shifts On Welfare Reform," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 7/1/08)

Timeline Of Obama's Welfare Transformation:

1996: "When Clinton Was Poised To Sign Welfare Reform While Running For Re-Election In 1996, Obama Called It 'Disturbing.'" ( Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Shifts On Welfare Reform," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 7/1/08)

1997: Obama Said That He Would Not Have Supported The 1996 Federal Welfare Reform. Obama: "I am not a defender of the status quo with respect to welfare. Having said that, I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems." (Sen. Barack Obama , State Of Illinois 90th General Assembly Regular Session Senate Transcript, 5/31/97, www.ilga.gov, p. 42)

1999: Obama: "I Made Sure Our New Welfare System Didn't Punish People By Kicking Them Off The Rolls."(Corey Hall, "State Sen. Barack Obama Announces For Congress," Hyde Park Citizen , 9/30/99)

2007: Obama Refused To Answer Whether He Would Have Signed Into Law The 1996 Welfare Reform Bill Had He Been President. "While campaigning for president in 2007, Obama refused on two occasions to say if he would have signed the same welfare-reform bill approved by the husband of his top rival. After addressing the International Association of Firefighters on March 14, 2007 , Obama told ABC News, 'I tend not to look back to what would have been done 10 years ago. We're talking about what I'm going to be doing for the next 10 years.' When ABC News posed the same question four months later, Obama again refused to answer. 'I'm not going to re-litigate what happened back in the 90s,' said Obama at a July 17, 2007 , press conference in Washington, D.C. 'I'm talking about what's going to be happening going forward.' 'Bill Clinton isn't on the ballot,' he added." ( Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Shifts On Welfare Reform," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 7/1/08)

2008: Obama Releases A Campaign Ad Touting The Achievements Of Illinois Welfare Reform Legislation Which Brought The State Into Compliance With The 1996 Federal Law. Announcer: "He passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by eighty percent." (Obama For America, "Obama Campaign Releases Second General Election Television Ad," Press Release, 6/30/08)

D.C. HANDGUN BAN

Last Week, Obama Said He Thought The D.C. Handgun Ban Was Unconstitutional:

Obama: "It looks to me that the D.C. handgun ban overshot the runway. That it went beyond constitutional limits." (Bloomberg's "Taking Stock," 6/26/08)

But Throughout The Primary Campaign, Obama Expressed Support For The D.C. Gun Ban:

Obama Campaign: "Obama Believes The D.C. Handgun Law Is Constitutional." "[T]he campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.'" ( James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins , "Court To Hear Gun Case," Chicago Tribune, 11/20/07)

During An Interview, Obama Acknowledged His Support For The D.C. Gun Ban. Questioner Leon Harris : "One other issue that's of great importance here in the district as well is gun control. You said in Idaho recently -- I'm quoting here -- 'I have no intention of taking away folks' guns,' but you support the D.C. handgun ban." Obama: "Right." ( Leon Harris and Sen. Barack Obama , Forum Sponsored By ABC And Politico.com, Washington, DC , 2/12/08)

PUBLIC FINANCING

Obama Claimed He Had Been Consistent On The Issue Of Public Financing:

Obama Said "There Just Hasn't Been A Lot Of Contradiction" In Regards To His Public Financing Position. Reporter: "Senator, back to your decision on public financing. It was widely criticized as being a flip-flop and/or broken promise. Do you accept this characterization as fair, and are you concerned that the decision might jeopardize your credibility on other pledges you've made during the campaign on issues like trade, health care and withdrawing troops from Iraq ?" Obama: "I think that the characterization of flip-flop was wrong, because if you looked at my statement, what I said was that we would try to work with the Republican nominee to preserve the option of public financing. ... So there just hasn't been a lot of contradiction there..." (Sen. Barack Obama , Media Availability, Chicago, IL , 6/25/08)

But Obama Referred To His "Pledge" With McCain To Enter Into Public Financing And Then Chose To Opt Out:

In November, In Response To A Midwest Democracy Network Questionnaire, Barack Obama Said He Would Accept Public Funding In The General Election. Question: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" Obama: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests." (Sen. Barack Obama , "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, www.commoncause.org, 11/27/07)

But By June, Obama Declined Public Financing In The General Election, Calling It A "Broken System." "In a web video emailed to supporters, Obama asks his supporters to help him 'declare our independence from a broken system.' Of course, it's not so much a broken system that explains why he's passing on the FEC's $80+million. He will easily raise more than he could ever get in public funding." ( Jonathan Martin , "Obama Opts Out Of Public Financing," The Politico's "Jonathan Martin" Blog, www.politico.com, 6/19/08)

IMMUNITY FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES INVOLVED IN TERRORIST SURVEILLANCE

During The Primaries, Obama Pledged To Filibuster Any Bill Which Contained Immunity For Telecommunications Companies Involved In Electronic Surveillance:

In October, The Obama Campaign Pledged He Would Filibuster "Any Bill That Includes Retroactive Immunity For Telecommunications Companies." Obama Spokesman Bill Burton : "To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." ( Greg Sargent , "Obama Camp Says It: He'll Support Filibuster Of Any Bill Containing Telecom Immunity," Talking Points Memo's "Election Central" Blog, tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com, 10/24/07)

In December, Obama Stated He "Unequivocally Opposes Giving Retroactive Immunity To Telecommunications Companies." "Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Senator's efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill. ... Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same." (Sen. Barack Obama , "Statement From Senator Obama's Office On The FISA Bill," Press Release, 12/17/07)

In February Obama Voted Against A Bill That Would Have Reauthorized Surveillance, But Also Contained Retroactive Immunity. "Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the bill that would amend the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to authorize warrantless surveillance of foreign targets, even if they are communicating with someone in the United States . It would give the FISA court authority to approve several aspects of how such surveillance is conducted. It also would grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies alleged to have participated in the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program." (S. 2248, CQ Vote #19: Motion Agreed To 69-19: R 48-0; D 20-28; I 1-1, 2/12/08, Obama Voted Nay)

Now, Obama Backs A Compromise Bill Which Grants Immunity For Telecommunications Companies:

Obama Now Supports A Bill Reauthorizing Electronic Surveillance That Grants Immunity To Telecommunications Companies. Obama: "Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue. ... It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. ... So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives - and the liberty - of the American people."( Ben Smith , "Obama Backs FISA Compromise," The Politico's "Ben Smith" Blog, www.politico.com, 6/20/08)

INDIVIDUAL MANDATE

Last Wednesday, An Obama Adviser Revealed That He "Is Not Opposed To The Idea" Of An Individual Mandate And That His Plan Could "Go In Clinton's Direction" On The Issue:

Campaign Adviser, Kavita Patel , Said That Obama "Is Not Opposed To The Idea" Of An Individual Mandate And That The Campaign Is In Touch With Former Clinton Health Care Advisers. "Asked if Obama would be seen as reversing himself if he were to endorse an individual mandate after clashing with Clinton on the issue, Patel dismissed the concern. 'He has not said he is opposed to it,' [ Kavita] Patel told ABC News. 'He has voiced his disagreement with having that be a part of his health-care plan last year. But he is not opposed to the idea itself.' Patel added that the Obama campaign is in touch with former Clinton health-care advisers." ( Teddy Davis , John Santucci and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Health Plan Could Go In Clinton's Direction," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 6/26/08)

The Adviser Signaled That Obama's Health Care Plan "Could Eventually Go In Clinton's Direction" In Regards To An Individual Mandate. "No policy proposal more sharply divided Barack Obama from Hillary Clinton than the former first lady's plan requiring adults to purchase health insurance. But as the one-time rivals head to Unity, N.H. , on Friday, a health adviser to the presumptive Democratic nominee is signaling that Obama's plan could eventually go in Clinton's direction." ( Teddy Davis , John Santucci and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Health Plan Could Go In Clinton's Direction," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 6/26/08)

Patel: "Senator Obama Is Willing To Consider Any Sort Of Proposal That Would Bring Together, Not Just The Insurance Industry But ... The Consumers Themselves..."( Teddy Davis , John Santucci and Gregory Wallace , "Obama Health Plan Could Go In Clinton's Direction," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 6/26/08)

But Earlier That Week, Another Campaign Adviser Said That Obama "Will Return" To Issue Of An Individual Mandate If There Are Americans Left Uninsured:

Obama's Adviser, Dan Tarullo , Said That He "Will Return" To The Issue Of An Individual Mandate If "We Have To Deal With The Problems Of Uncovered People." MSNBC's Contessa Brewer : "So Clinton criticized Obama during the primary race because his plan does not make health care universal. Does his plan ensure that every American has coverage?" Dan Tarullo : "Well, it is a universal plan. It doesn't mandate that everyone get health care coverage, but it makes sure that every American can get health care coverage and I think Senator Obama's approach has been look, we have a big problem of 47 million Americans who are uninsured, many others who have insurance are struggling with the cost of the health care. So what he wants to do is make sure there's affordable health care available for everyone and he believes t hat in and of itself will lead to a great expansion in coverage. If we have to deal with the problems of uncovered people later, well of course, he will return to that issue." (MSNBC's "MSNBC Live," 6/24/08)

FLASHBACK: In The Democrat Primary, Obama Argued With Sen. Clinton Over Individual Mandates:

Obama Argued With Sen. Clinton Saying There Is "A Different Way" To Achieve Universal Care Rather Than Imposing An Individual Mandate. Obama: "We've got a philosophical difference which we've debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it, an d my belief is the reason that people don't have it is not because they don't want it, but because they can't afford it. ... Now, there are legitimate arguments for why Senator Clinton and others have called for a mandate, and I'm happy to have that debate. But the notion that I am leaving 15 -- 15 million people out somehow implies that we are different in our goals of providing coverage to all Americans, and that is simply not true. We think that there's going to be a different way of getting there." ( Barack Obama , CNN/Univision Democrat Presidential Debate, Austin, TX , 2/21/08)

SPECIAL INTEREST ADVERTISING

Last Week, The AFL-CIO Endorsed Obama And Began Spending Millions Of Dollars In Support Of His Campaign:

The AFL-CIO And Its 56 Unions Endorsed Obama. "With just a few days left before June ends, there's a clear frontrunner for the month's least surprising political development -- the endorsement Barack Obama received today from the AFL-CIO. The massive conglomeration of 56 national and international unions -- comprising about 10.5 million workers -- steered clear of making a pick during the primary season because there was no consensus choice among the group's various affiliates." ( Don Frederick , " Barack Obama's AFL-CIO Nod Gives Him One More Potent Weapon," Los Angeles Times' "Top Of The Ticket" Blog, HYPERLINK "http://latimesblog s.latimes.com/washington/2008/06/barack-obamas-1.html_html_" Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., 6/26/08)

The AFL-CIO And Its Member Unions Plan To Spend Over $200 Million In Support Of Obama's Campaign. "The AFL-CIO's endorsement will enable the federation to begin spending the $53.4 million it has budgeted for the election on voter-mobilization efforts for Sen. Obama, targeting union members through phone calls, mailings and visits to workplaces and homes. The federation's member unions plan to spend an additional $150 million through the fall on their own efforts." ( Kris Maher , "AFL-CIO To Endorse Obama, Start Spending," The Wall Street Journal, 6/25/08)

But Obama Has A History Of Criticizing Independent Expenditures, Including Last Week When He Broke His Promise On Public Financing:

Just Last Week, Obama Claimed He Was Breaking His Public Financing Pledge Due To The "Smears And Attacks" From "527 Groups." "It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations." ("Obama's Statements On Public Financing," The Associated Press, 6/19/08)

In The Democrat Primary, Obama's Campaign Attempted To Turn Independent Expenditures Into A Campaign Issue, Claiming "This Kind Of Politics Needs To End." "No outside groups have distributed mailers or run advertisements on Obama's behalf in New Hampshire , and Obama has attempted to turn that distance into a campaign issue. 'The case has never been clearer - this kind of politics needs to end,' Obama campaign manager David Plouffe wrote in a recent fundraising e-mail." ( Sarah Liebowitz , "Edwards, Clinton Bankrolled From Afar," Concord [NH] Monitor, 1/4/08)

Obama: "[Y]ou can't say yesterday, you don't believe in 'em, and today, you're having three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you. You can't just talk the talk." (Sen. Barack Obama , Remarks At A Campaign Event, Oskaloosa, IA , 12/22/07)

NUCLEAR POWER

Obama In September 2007 : "I Don't Think That We Can Take Nuclear Power Off The Table":

Obama: "I don't think that we can take nuclear power off the table. What we have to make sure of is that we have the capacity to store it properly and safely, and that we reduce whatever threats might come from terrorism." (Sen. Barack Obama , MSNBC Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Hanover, NH , 9/26/07)

Obama In December 2007 : "I Am Not A Nuclear Energy Proponent":

Obama: "I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal. I am not a nuclear energy proponent." (Sen. Barack Obama , Remarks At Town Hall Event, Newton, IA , 12/30/07)

Obama In June 2008 : "I Don't Think That Nuclear Power Is A Panacea":

Obama: "I've said this before, I don't think that nuclear power is a panacea. But I also think that given that it doesn't emit greenhouse gases, for us to invest some R&D into seeing whether we can store nuclear waste safely, or reuse it. These are all areas where the market interacting with a clear set of rules by the federal government and billions of dollars devoted to research and development can, I think, trigger the kind of economic growth that we haven't seen in this country for a long time." (Sen. Barack Obama , Remarks At Meeting With Democrat Governors, Chicago, IL , 6/20/08)

DEATH PENALTY

Obama Stated Disagreement With The Supreme Court Decision Striking Down The Use Of The Death Penalty For A Convicted Child Rapist:

When Asked About Today's Supreme Court Decision Striking Down The Use Of The Death Penalty For A Child Rapist, Obama Stated That He Disagreed With The Decision. Reporter: "Senator, what's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision today striking down the death penalty for a child rapist?" Obama: "I disagree with the decision. I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances, for the most egregious of crimes. I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime. And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our constitution. Now, I think it's -- you know, had the Supreme Court said we want to constrain the ability of the states to do this to make sure that it's done in a careful and appropriate way, that would have been one thing. But it basically had a blanket prohibition and I disagreed with that decision." (Sen. Barack Obama , Press Conference, Chicago, IL , 6/25/08)

But In The Past, Obama Opposed The Death Penalty:

Running For The Illinois State Senate In 1996, Obama Opposed The Death Penalty. Question: "Do you support ... capital punishment?" Obama's Answer: "No." (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)

OBAMA'S "PRESIDENTIAL" SEAL

In June, The Obama Campaign Unveiled A "Presidential" Seal For Use At Campaign Events:

Obama Unveiled An Official-Looking Seal "Deliberately Reminiscent Of The Official Seal Of The President." "At a discussion with a dozen Democratic governors in Chicago on Friday morning, each of the governors was identified with a small name plate but Senator Barack Obama sat behind a low rostrum to which was attached an official-looking seal no one had seen before. It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States ." ( John M. Broder , "The Great Seal Of Obama land?" The New York Times' "The Caucus" Blog, thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com, 6/20/08)

But After Widespread Criticism, Obama's Campaign Claimed The Seal Would Only Be Used Once:

"A Presidential Seal Graphically Altered With Symbols Representing Barack Obama's Campaign Of Change Was Just For One-Time Use And Will Not Be Used Again, A Spokeswoman For The Democrat's Campaign Said Monday." ( Sara Kugler , "Obama Campaign Says Altered Presidential Seal Was For One-Time Use, Will Not Be Seen Again," The Associated Press, 6/23/08)

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