First on CNN: Obama's open mic a Republican open season
March 26th, 2012
01:27 PM ET
2 years ago

First on CNN: Obama's open mic a Republican open season

(CNN) – Republicans wasted no time Monday pouncing on President Barack Obama's now-controversial "open-mic" comment with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

In a new web video, the Republican National Committee painted a stark picture of Obama's exchange with the Russian leader, introducing the conversation with the text: "What Obama tells world leaders when he thinks you aren't listening."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

The video features the clip of Obama and Medvedev holding a private conversation at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. During their talk, which was caught on camera and on microphone, Obama asked his Russian counterpart for some "space" on the U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe.

"This is my last election," Obama told Medvedev. "After my election I have more flexibility."

While Obama put his hand on Medvedev's arm, the Russian president responded saying he would transmit the information to the incoming president, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

But Republicans seized on Obama's request as an opportunity to frame the president as a politician primarily focused on re-election.

"It's amazing what we find out about this president's policies when he thinks no one is listening and it begs the question: What else doesn't Obama want us to know about before he's reelected?" Kirsten Kukowski, RNC spokeswoman, said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also came out against Obama's comments, saying the moment represented "an alarming and troubling development."

"This is no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people. And not telling us what he's intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might and with regards to our commitment to Israel and with regard to our absolute conviction that Iran must have a nuclear weapon," Romney said while campaigning in San Diego.

His team launched a new Twitter campaign Monday, highlighting the president's remark.

From his Twitter account, Romney asked followers to fill in the blank: "@BarackObama: I'll have more flexibility to ______ after the election."

Pushing back, the Obama campaign said Romney was distorting the president's words.

"Governor Romney has been all over the map on the key foreign policy challenges facing our nation today, offering a lot of chest thumping and empty rhetoric with no concrete plans to enhance our security or strengthen our alliances," Ben LaBolt, the campaign's press secretary, said in a statement. "Instead of passing the buck, it is time that Governor Romney shared his foreign policy agenda with the American people."

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Brianna Keilar and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Also see:

Santorum: Romney 'worst Republican' to run against Obama

Ryan's open to V.P spot

Graham's 'comfortable' with Romney

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction


Filed under: 2012 • Dmitry Medvedev • Mitt Romney • NATO • President Obama • RNC • Russia • South Korea
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Well, after 4 years of saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite, the American people should know by now that Obama and the Democrats are pathological liars. They take credit for things they do not do and blame everybody else for their failures. You can only trust HALF as far as you can throw them so we need to make sure we throw them VERY FAR out of office this November.

    March 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess they are worried Obama might want to have a moment like Reagan and Gorbachev did: Remember Rekjavik, and how much the righties howled after Reagan announced arms reduction talks, and referred to Gorbachev as his friend?

    March 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. ja

    don't fool yourselves, the pres was aware the mic was on, the entire gop campaign is etch and sketch

    March 26, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    "@BarackObama: I'll have more flexibility to ______ after the election."
    -----------------------------------
    - pass a public option
    - pass immigration reform
    - end the Afghanistan war sooner

    If the shoe were on the other foot and the tweet was @MittRomney: I'll have more flexibility to ______ after the election."

    - raise your taxes 7 cut them for the wealthy
    - go back to supporting Obamacare/Romneycare
    - go back to being pro-choice
    - go to war with Iran

    March 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Ken in MD

    Yes, because every Republican tells everyone exactly what they're going to do, then does it. Right?

    March 26, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Jules

    So world leaders have private conversations to wheel and deal – what a shocker that is!

    March 26, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Jon

    I believe every elected official in Washington feels that they have more felxibility after an election. Romney feels that he'll have more flexibility after the convention. I see no harm in stating the obvious.

    March 26, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Dean

    Obama has ensured that a black will not inhabit the White House for at leat the next 50 years. A second Obama term will ensure that it doesn't happen for another 100 years. Obama 2012!

    March 26, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. What you talkin bout Republicans?

    Can someone please tell me why there is backlash against negotiating with Russia? This isn't the cold war anymore people. We aren't enemies with Russia... at what point do you stop living in the past?

    March 26, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Blindersoff

    It show that our President is always at work for the betterment of the american people and the security of the nation. What a bunch of losers the republican party are. Forever ready to condemn and or impeach our president at every turn. Wake up America, the real traders to this great nation is the republican leadership. Period.

    March 26, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    More projection from the GOBP weasels. If people want good reason to fear a candidates hidden intentions, look no further than the filthy rich backers buying this election. Only about 100 people, vastly white, male and old, have made 80% of all political donations, including PACs, this year. That majority of that elitist money has gone to the GOBP and most of that to Rmoney. So perhaps all the bedwetters on the right should be asking what kinds of behind the scenes promises Rmoney is making to sell our America to his parasitic neocon and corporatist buddies.

    March 26, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. logic N LA

    Facts are facts. If Obama could not get co-operation in 2009 from Repulbicans, why would he think he could on this from an election? He will have more flexibility after the election- there will be fewer Republicans in Congress.
    This is a non-issue.

    March 26, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Recovering Republican

    Republicans are just gnats pestering the crowd. Get ready to spend another four years complaining about PRESIDENT Obama, cause after November, he is still going to be the PRESIDENT.

    March 26, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. cali girl

    This is what dub did much more to us in his second term. This is just fluff that the GOP is grabbing on to.

    March 26, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Obama is VERY flexible. He bends over backwards to give his union supporters and campaign contributors BILLIONS and leans forward very far to jam an unwanted heathcare bill down the throats of the American people. All while unemployment stays at record levels for record time and he spins a web lies around what he's doing.

    March 26, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Truth – There you go agains with your 4 years of nothing crap. During the president's 39 months in office, the people hurting the most are al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Somali Pirates. Under our president, he stock market has almost doubled and 4 million jobs have been created. Bin Laden is dead and GM and Chrysler are alive, there are fewer uninsured people now. Oil production is at its highest level ever, and oil demand is down. We are no longer in Bush's war as our president ended it.

    March 26, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Pat

    I guess it's true. Republicans are not willing to compromise with ANYONE. Not even with each other!

    March 26, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Obama got Osama

    The missile defense system that Bush and his GOP cronies asked for was never meant to be built at all.

    The threat of the system has always been about putting pressure on the Russians to side with the US at the UN Security council.

    The problem is that the Russians know that the US will never want to waste taxpayers dollars to build this system. So this Bush/GOP tactic has not worked at all to *scaring* the Russians.

    Bush/GOP cowboy diplomacy has failed. Time to move on to a new strategy with Russia.

    March 26, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Nick

    Sounds sour grapes to me. I think GOP is worried that Obama might get a moment like Reagan had and it will be his legacy (apart from Obamacare if it survives).

    March 26, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. truthfully

    President Obama I must say you look soooo handsome, cool and sophisticated compared to the Republican nominees – all of them. That said, I doubt if that open mike was a mistake.

    March 26, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    logic N LA – I also think the President Obama will have a congress who puts America first when the baggers are gone after the November elections.

    March 26, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. diridi

    There is nothing wrong with Pres. Obama. Republicans are thugs of this nation. they loot, cheat, to win election just like the idiot, GWBush...nasty thugs. yes, Obama2012.

    March 26, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    TRANSLATION: Wait until I get these unproductive republicans out of Congress, then I can work with you.

    I hope you TEApublicans are prepared for another super-majority by democrats. We the PEOPLE know who has been causing gridlock in Washington.

    March 26, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. dan5404

    The GOP jumps on everything anyway. The conversation means nothing except both countries need time to come to a reasonable compromise. That word is not in the GOP dictionary, but militarism and isolationism are.

    March 26, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    I though this question was well settled already by everythign the Teatrolls and World Net Daily have taught us. To wit:

    Obama will be elected in 2012 and then never be seen again wearing anything but a dashiki and carrying a muslim prayer mat, holding union rallies at which federal gov't funded abortions are performed in tents while everyone sings Kumbaya and chants anti-white slogan. This will of course be followed by forging a new birth certificate so he can run for President of Kenya, where he will seek to get a nuclear weapon with which to threaten the US into allowing jihad babies to cross the border from Mexico, so they vote in elections in predominantly red states along the border. Finally, he will build a giant space mirror our of tinfoil and bottlecaps to reflect sunlight at the US bible belt in order to fake that global warming exists so we will all be forced to ride bicycles and skooters to work while wearing berkenstocks.

    March 26, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
1 2